World Cup organizers dismiss threat of locust plague

FILE  - In this Wednesday, Sept. 20, 2017 file photo, a view on the pitch of the World Cup stadium which is still under construction in Volgograd, Russia. The Russian government says a plague of locusts could "disgrace" the country by destroying World Cup fields, it was reported on Wednesday, Jan. 31, 2018, Locusts often feast on crops in southern Russia and a member of the agriculture ministry says they could descend on stadiums. (AP Photo, File)

MOSCOW (AP) The head of the World Cup organizing committee has dismissed claims that a plague of locusts could threaten the soccer tournament in Russia.

Alexei Sorokin was responding to a warning from the agriculture ministry that locusts could devour the grass at stadiums in southern Russian cities.

Sorokin says ”locusts present no danger to soccer fields” because ”the grass on soccer fields is very short and it’s sprayed with certain substances.”

Sorokin says ”we try to look at this with humor, can’t say anything else. It’s not a threat.”

Locust swarms are a regular problem in southern Russian, where they often devour whole fields of crops in the warmer months. Sometimes they cause so much damage that local states of emergency are declared.