A ‘perfect’ success, purrs Gianni
MOSCOW: Russia is proud of how it hosted the Fifa Confederations Cup but expects to face more challenges when it hosts the Fifa World Cup next year, Deputy Prime Minister Vitaly Mutko, in charge of sport matters in the country, revealed yesterday.
“The (Confed Cup) is only a prelude, while the World Cup is a far more important tournament,” Mutko is reported as saying to state news agency TASS.
“There will be more difficulties. But if we do everything in the same way we did at the (Confed Cup), it will be a success. We will hold a number of meetings to assess the results of the recent tournament, and after that, preparations will begin for the World Cup,” he resolved.
However, the doping issue which has battered Russian sport in recent years also reached the nation’s football during the Confed Cup and will remain, although Mutko on Saturday dismissed the allegations.
Russia’s team were mentioned in connection with doping by Britain’s Mail on Sunday, which said that the 23-player squad from the 2014 World Cup was suspected of offences, with five players of that squad also taking part in this Confed Cup.
Russia has also been building and modernising stadiums in recent years for the World Cup, with a budget of about $11 billion (about R145bn).
Fifa president Gianni Infantino commended Russia in the run-up to the final matches over the weekend, saying the Confed Cup had been a “great success.”
He praised the warm welcome in Russia and said the organisation of the tournament had been “perfect,” without the much discussed issues within Russian football, such as hooliganism, violence or racism, being of concern.
“We had nothing, no incident. Everything ran smoothly, everything ran perfectly,” Infantino said on the weekend.
There had also been a concern of a lack of interest in the Confed Cup as ticket sales appeared sluggish for months ahead of the event.
However, the average attendance at the matches was just over 39 000, the third-best result in the tournament’s history. – dpa