FIFA has praised next summer’s World Cup hosts Russia following a trouble-free Confederations Cup.
Reigning world champions Germany beat Chile in the final on Sunday to win the tournament for the first time and the competition concluded without any incidents of crowd trouble in the sixteen games across four host cities.
“It has been a great success from many points of view,” said Gianni Infantino, FIFA president. “We were hearing about violence [before the tournament], about incidents, about hooligans, about racism. Well we had nothing, we had no incidents. Everything ran smoothly.”
The official in charge of next year’s World Cup organising committee has praised supporters and believes the tournament has changed the perception of Russia as hosts of a major football competition.
“It’s been very successful,” Alexey Sorokin, Russia 2018’s chief executive, told Sky Sports News HQ. “The level at which this tournament was organised dispelled many fears and stereotypes about how major events are organised in Russia, how foreign fans are treated.
“Fans enjoyed free travel and free Wi-Fi inside stadiums. 217 trains were made available to transport fans. We feel very comfortable, we just need people to come here and enjoy Russia. We expected a little more spectators from foreign countries.”
Sorokin believes the issue of Russian hooliganism has been “significantly overblown in some foreign media” and remains confident the World Cup will be free of racism and discrimination.
“We are confident, there was not a single racist incident during the Confederations Cup,” he said. “We see these incidents lowering in number tremendously [in Russia]. That means the trend is the right one and I’m sure the World Cup will be an excellent environment.”
More than 428,000 identity cards were issued by the Russian government to fans during the Confederations Cup.
The cards, called FAN ID, must be produced at World Cup games with every ticket, and scanned at security checkpoints, to ensure entry to stadiums.
Organisers have guaranteed safety and security at venues but, away from tightly-controlled grounds, one eyewitness during the Confederations Cup told Sky Sports News HQ they witnessed an apparent organised fight.
It is claimed five men fought briefly in broad daylight involving a baseball bat, a brick and a wrench, in a car park close to a team hotel.
The eyewitness did not feel threatened, there is no suggestion the incident was linked to football and police were not asked to investigate.
Russian government ministers have also repeatedly denied allegations of a state-sponsored doping programme, including football.
“If I perform a Russian dance, will you stop asking these questions?” asked Vitaly Mutko, Russia’s deputy prime minister, during a news conference to mark the end of the tournament. “There has never been, nor will there ever be, doping in football. Our team is being tested all the time; we have doping control at every match. This has never been an issue in football.”Soccer Accumulator Bonus
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