Sports Minister Vitaly Mutko says Russia has “learned the lesson” from the hooligan violence at Euro 2016 and has promised that the 2018 World Cup finals will be staged in “a secure, comfortable and football-loving atmosphere.”
Mutko, who is also president of the local organising committee of the World Cup, head of the Russian football federation and a member of the FIFA and UEFA governing boards, made his comments at the formal confirmation of ticketing pricing and timelines.
He had been criticised in France for waving encouragingly to Russian fans in the crowd at the match against England which was preceded by violence on the streets and followed by a thugs’ attack on English fans within the Stade Velodrome.
The Russian federation was threatened with expulsion by UEFA if such incidents were repeated. Troublemakers were rounded up and deported.
Mutko said: “Take any big event, like Euro 2016, certainly we will learn the lesson.
“We had our people there under the [organisers] ‘observer’ programme, we also had security officers in France. I have been in Marseille and have seen everything with my own eyes.
“We are now in negotiations with colleagues from France and will meet to discuss their experience. They are trying to look at the best practices and I believe we can create a secure, comfortable and football loving atmosphere.”
Mutko said that Russian legislation and systems had been tightened to embrace the latest security technologies and improve the exchange of hooligan ban lists with other countries.
He said: “The government guarantees security [and the] security concept has been drafted and shared with FIFA. We will ensure that every team, every fan can feel in safety. You know we already held the Olympic Games in 2014 and no issues were identified.”
Fatma Samoura, FIFA’s new secretary-general on not only her first major site visit but her visit to Russia, said that she considered preparations as “well underway” for next year’s Confederations Cup test event there.
Accepting her own responsibilities, she said: “It is paramount for me as secretary-general of FIFA to ensure that the World Cup and Confederations Cup will impress and inspire fans from the smallest villages in Africa and Asia to some of the world is most bustling and cosmopolitan cities like Moscow.”
The FIFA operations team would be led by her joint deputy Zvonimir Boban and competitions director Colin Smith.
The Confederations Cup draw will be staged in November in Kazan.
Samoura also promised that lessons would be learned from not only Euro 2016 but from the forthcoming Olympic Games in Rio de Janeiro “to ensure everyone coming to the Confederations Cup and World Cup can enjoy a great football festival in a safe environment.”