England files bid complaint to Fifa

England's 2018 World Cup bid team files complaint against head of rival Russian campaign after comments about London.

    Sorokin, second from right, said he is willing to apologise for the 'misunderstanding' for his comments [GALLO/GETTY]

    The England team bidding for the 2018 World Cup has filed a formal complaint with Fifa, football's world governing body, over critical comments made by the head of Russia's rival campaign.

    Alexei Sorokin, the chief of Russia's bid for the tournament, was reported in the Russian daily Sport-Express newspaper to have criticised London for high crime rates and binge drinking.

    He also accused British media of campaigning against his country's bid. The comments could be found to breach Fifa's rules over criticising competitors.

    Sorokin said on Tuesday that he was willing to apologise for the "misunderstanding" over his comments.

    He argued, however, that he had not broken any rules.

    England's complaint has been made against Sorokin rather than the Russian bid as a whole.

    Anti-corruption loophole 

    The row is the latest in a string of controversies surrounding bids for the 2018 and 2022 World Cups which will both be awarded on December 2.

    Switzerland is considering closing a loophole for sporting bodies in its anti-corruption law following allegations of bribery among Fifa officials involved in the bidding process.

    Since the accusations surfaced last week, Fifa has promised a zero tolerance approach to unethical behaviour in the contest to host the.

    Officials from international sport organisations are not currently covered by Switzerland's anti-corruption statutes.

    Anita Thanei, a Social Democrat who heads the Swiss parliament's legal committee, said on Tuesday she would launch a parliamentary initiative for the anti-corruption laws to be amended.

    "I expect the measure will find broad support," she said.

    "International sporting bodies are acting in the public interest, which is why the public is legitimately bothered when such cases are not punished."

    Ueli Maurer, the country's defence minister who also oversees sport, said the justice ministry would look into the matter

    "It's about corruption, it's possibly about money laundering, it's about fixing bets, touches doping too," he told Swiss television late on Monday.

    Politicians have called for action following news last week that two members of Fifa's executive committee were provisionally suspended on suspicion of selling their votes.

    Switzerland is home to dozens of international sport organisations who choose it as a base for its favourable legal framework and tax regime.

    Besides Fifa, the European football confederation and the International Olympic Committee are also located there.

    SOURCE: Agencies


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