FIFA’s Valcke: Boycotting Russia’s 2018 World Cup makes no sense
SOCHI, Russia —
FIFA secretary general Jerome Valcke said Friday a boycott of the 2018 World Cup in Russia would be ”nonsense.”
Some European politicians have suggested that European countries could boycott the World Cup over the conflict in eastern Ukraine, which many Western governments accuse Russia of provoking.
During a visit to Sochi, Valcke said talk of a boycott was an attempt to ”provoke” discord rather than ”to be realistic on what the world is today.”
He added: ”I hope that the world will understand and recognize that the World Cup is a sporting event and there is nothing to do with politics and should not be used as a political tool by any groups.”
Valcke spoke after meeting with Russian World Cup organizers in Sochi to examine the state of preparations for the tournament.
He’s the first senior FIFA official to visit Russia since last week’s publication of a report by FIFA ethics judge Joachim Eckert that closed the probe of the 2018 and 2022 World Cup bidding contests.
Eckert’s report was a summary of a longer report by FIFA investigator Michael Garcia, who has accused Eckert’s summary of misrepresenting his findings.
Eckert judged that any corrupt acts did not justify re-opening the bidding process for the 2018 and 2022 tournaments.
FIFA defended a decision by Eckert and Garcia to provide full copies of Garcia’s report to FIFA’s audit and compliance committee chairman, Domenico Scala, who may then release details to FIFA’s executive committee next month.
”Now there will be more information given to the executive committee members and it’s a good thing,” Valcke said.
Several current and former members of the executive committee have themselves been accused of improper behavior during the World Cup bidding process.
Also Friday, Russian Sports Minister Vitaly Mutko, who chairs the organizing committee for the 2018 World Cup, vowed that fans would not face travel problems despite the large distances between some of the 11 host cities.
The easternmost city, Yekaterinburg, is 1,300 miles (2,100 kilometers) from Sochi in the south and almost 1,550 miles (2,500km) from Kaliningrad in the west.
”The flight to Yekaterinburg from (Sochi) is two hours long and to St.Petersburg from here is a three hours’ flight. These are the longest distances,” Mutko said. ”So, in general for fans it will be very convenient.”