World Cup 2010 - England bid launches Russia protest

Tue, 26 Oct 13:54:00 2010

England's 2018 World Cup bid team lodged a formal complaint with FIFA against the chief of rivals Russia who later offered to apologise to them for the "misunderstanding" over critical comments attributed to him.

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An England bid spokesman confirmed a complaint had been made to footballs world governing body and that it referred specifically to comments made by Russian 2018 bid chief Alexei Sorokin, rather than the Russian bid as a whole.

Sorokin's comments appeared in the local Sport-Express paper in which he spoke of London's high crime rate and levels of alcohol consumption.

FIFA's rules forbid competing nations to make any comments about rival bidders.

Sorokin said on Tuesday that Russian officials could send a formal letter to FIFA and the English bid if necessary to explain themselves.

"I can only apologise for this misunderstanding," he said.

England launch protest against Russians

"We have the tapes of the interview and I know for a fact that I didn't break any rules.

"I did not try to hurt or discredit our bid rivals, there was no malice intended, I'm 100 per cent sure of that."

Sorokin was quoted as saying in the newspaper earlier this month: "It's no secret that London has the highest crime rate when compared with other European cities, and the highest level of alcohol consumption among young people."

"I am really sorry that because of several interpretations my interview was distorted," Sorokin said.

"In the interview I used London's problems as an example.

Such things are part of life in any big city.

"If you're talking specifically about my interview in the Sport-Express and what the British media made out of it, I must say my words have been distorted in three different stages, creating all the fuss," he said.

"First, people in the Sport-Express had interpreted some of my comments in a vague way, not exactly what I was trying to express.

"Second, much of it was lost in translation from Russian into English and then, the rest was made up by the English journalists themselves," he added. "Because of all these things the final content came out in a wrong way."

The incident follows an investigation into newspaper claims that two FIFA executive board members were offered to sell their votes ahead of the decision on the 2018 and 2022 World Cup hosts.

FIFA are also investigating claims of collusion and vote-swapping between rival nations for the 2018 and 2022 bids.

Russia and England are bidding for the 2018 finals along with joint bids from Spain/Portugal and Belgium/Netherlands.

The United States, Japan, South Korea, Qatar and Australia are the candidates for the 2022 tournament. FIFA will announce the winning bids on December 2 in Zurich.

Reuters

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