Ukraine welcome at World Cup, says Russia, as Blatter attends draw

World Cup 2018 CEO Alexei Sorokin

The head of Russia’s World Cup organising team Alexei Sorokin  this week assured  Ukraine that it would be welcome at the 2018 tournament   despite tensions between the two nations over the annexation of Crimea, and  the ongoing conflict in eastern Ukraine. Russia denies any military involvement in the separatist insurgency, and Sorokin told Sky News  that it would not affect Ukraine’s participation if they qualify. “They will  be as welcome as any other team in Russia,” he said.
Sorokin’s remarks came the day before the beleaguered and outgoing FIFA chief Sepp Blatter attended  the qualifying draw in St Petersburg on Saturday for a tournament that looks certain to go ahead despite the situation in Ukraine and accusations that Russia may have also been involved in bribing officials to secure the right to host the tournament.
Russia’s economic crisis has also made life more difficult for Sorokin and his team,  with some foreign investors pulling out of the hotel construction programme “Investors didn’t deem it possible to spend money on certain hotels,”  Sorokin admitted, but added that they would be able to deliver the required number of rooms regardless.
He also insisted that he had no doubt that the tournament will still go ahead despite investigations into corruption, and  dismissed criticism from FIFA’s former ethics investigator Michael Garcia, who described them as uncooperative after they declined to hand over computer records, claiming they had been destroyed by a hire company.
“What we know about this is that the Swiss authorities are conducting an investigation into this at the request of FIFA,” he said.  “We have not had any requests or official correspondence from any authorities, be that in Europe or elsewhere. If we receive a request, we will consider it.”

Source: sky