Russia does not foresee any problem related to the conflict in Ukraine when it hosts the next World Cup in 2018, the Associated Press reported, citing the country’s sports minister, Vitaly Mutko.
“It’s a different subject and it will not influence preparations for the World Cup at all,” Mutko was quoted as saying at a briefing on Saturday.
Russia has allocated US$20 billion to prepare for the international football competition held every four years.
Russian President Vladimir Putin attended Sunday’s World Cup final in Rio de Janeiro, and took part in a handover ceremony between host nations with Brazilian President Dilma Rousseff and FIFA President Sepp Blatter, the report said.
FIFA also does not foresee any major problems in Russia’s preparations for the event, although the association’s vice president Jeffrey Webb has expressed some worries about racism and fan disorder.
But Mutko, the local organizing committee chairman, said problems with fans in Russian club matches were no worse than in other countries. “It is a whole sub-culture and you just have to deal with it,” the minister was quoted as saying. “The World Cup is something different. We should not mix the two things up.”
Tensions between Russia and Ukraine could persist for much longer, even if a ceasefire is soon reached, the news agency said. Russia has faced international criticism since annexing the Crimea and allegedly supporting pro-Russian insurgents in eastern Ukraine, it added.
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