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Russia football chief downplays World Cup racism concerns

FAN TROUBLES: Supporters in Moscow burn flares and show a Swastika flag in 2013 (PA)

THE CHIEF executive of Russia's 2018 World Cup campaign has refuted suggestions there will be any problems with racism as Manchester City prepare to play CSKA Moscow behind closed doors in their Champions League group game.

Alexey Sorokin batted away suggestions that racism could cause trouble at the tournament, despite Russian clubs being punished for racist actions of fans.

CSKA have been sanctioned by Uefa after their supporters took part in racist chanting, and there are increasing concerns about Russia's suitability to host the tournament in four years time.

City midfielder Yaya Toure experienced abuse at CSKA during the same competition in October 2013, while former Queens Park Rangers defender Christopher Samba recently suffered the same while playing against Torpedo Moscow.

Sorokin said: “Controversy about what? We are absolutely certain that we will stage a remarkable tournament and that is the focus of our effort. I don’t even understand what controversy you are talking about.

“The Fifa Exco [executive committee] has recently reconfirmed our concept, which gives answers to the many questions you may have. We don’t have any questions. Our job is to make this the best World Cup ever. So, what would you like me to say?”

A FIFA delegation of 40 people are currently in the country to check on the status of stadiums that will stage the games. Russian Prime Minister, Dmitry Medvedev told the delegation that £12.4bn will be spent to stage the competition; while roads are being well built and 70 new metro stations are being built.

“The Russian Football Union is making all the efforts to eradicate these things. Racism is not a threat that is unique to Russia.” Sorokin added.

“We are part of the universal effort to combat any unwanted activities in the stadium, but we have read that some people use football games to self-express, but not to watch football. We are in the course of inspection visits on stadiums, however. We respond to questions on stadiums and our work with Fifa, please.”

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