A row between Russian and English football officials over their rival bids for hosting the 2018 World Cup has escalated with the Russian Football Union’s honorary president denouncing an English complaint as “absolutely primitive.”
Vyacheslav Koloskov told championat.ru that a complaint by England’s bid team to FIFA about comments by the head of the Russian bid was prompted by “nervousness.”
“It’s a comical situation. The English are afraid of how badly their bid is going,” Koloskov was quoted as saying. “Instead of talking about their own advantages and merits, they try to disorient their rivals.
“There is no reason for Russia to fear sanctions. There won’t even be an investigation.”
English bid officials complained to FIFA after Russian bid chief Alexey Sorokin described London in an interview as a city rife with crime and high alcohol consumption among its youth.
Earlier this month, he had said: “It’s no secret that London has the highest crime rate when compared with other European cities, and the highest level of alcohol consumption among young people.”
But Sorokin made a fresh bid to end the simmering row between the nations.
He said: “It wasn’t a formal apology because I don’t feel like I’ve broken any rules. I just expressed my regret over the whole thing, it was just a misunderstanding.
“All of us in the Russian bid team have a great deal of respect for our English colleagues and I’d like to think they respect us as well. I hope we can put this matter to rest for good now.”
Meanwhile, FIFA said in a statement that the dispute is “currently pending” and it had contacted both countries’ bid committees.
FIFA has empowered its ethics committee to monitor bidders’ behavior in the two-year lobbying contest. Candidates are also forbidden from offering inducements to the 24 voters on FIFA’s executive committee or making vote-trading deals.