Russia’s 2018 World Cup bid leader has focused upon London’s “high crime rate” and youth alcohol problems in an interview that appears to contravene FIFA’s bidding rules prohibiting comments about rival bidders.
Alexei Sorokin insisted that the Russian bid did not want to get involved in public “squabbles” with England before going on to criticise their 2018 bid rivals.
Sorokin, chief executive of the bid, told Sport Express: “We do not enter into squabbles, although we have much to say.
“It’s no secret, for example, that in London they have the highest crime rate compared with other European cities, and the highest level of alcohol consumption among young people.”
Sorokin also played down suggestions that Russia has a problem with racist fans. He insisted that a banner with a picture of a banana aimed at West Brom’s striker Peter Odemwingie, produced by fans of his former club Lokomotiv Moscow was not racist.
“We could have a conversation about the lack of tolerance and the inciting of ethnic hatred by English fans, but we do not behave like someone who is always saying bad things about their neighbours,” he said.
“The banner was not a racist one. It was directed against a particular player who got very good money, lived very well here, but for some reason did not seem to want to play well.
“Racism is a common problem, not just in Russia. All soccer countries have had this, including Britain. Naturally, we must fight this and in the Russian Football Union we have a programme to combat all forms of racism.”