A ‘per­fect’ success, purrs Gianni

The Star Early Edition - - SPORT -

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

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