England accept Russia 2018 apology

Dispute between rivals for 2018 World Cup brought to an end as Fifa officials meet to discuss bidding process.

England 2018 World Cup Bid - Official Launch
England are one of the four candidates to host the 2018 World Cup [GALLO/GETTY]

England’s 2018 World Cup bid team has withdrawn its complaint against Russia after the country’s sports minister apologised for critical comments made by Alexei Sorokin, the Russian bid chief.

“We of course accepted this apology and appreciate the gesture. We now wish to move on from this matter,” the England bid team said in a statement on Thursday.

Sorokin had been quoted earlier in the week as telling the Sport-Express newspaper that London had the highest crime rate compared with other European cities and also the highest level of alcohol consumption among young people.

Under FIFA regulations, nations cannot make any comments about rival bidders for World Cup tournaments.

Sorokin, who had claimed his comments had been “misinterpreted” by the newspaper, said he was pleased to see an end to the dispute.

“I’m glad this whole thing is finally over to our mutual satisfaction and we can now proceed with our normal work,” he said.

England and Russia are two of four candidates competing for the right to stage the 2018 World Cup. The other two are joint bids, one by Spain and Portugal and the other by Belgium and The Netherlands.

Japan, South Korea, Australia, United States and Qatar are candidates for the 2022 event.

Bidding process

Football’s world governing body is scheduled to announce the hosts of the two tournaments on December 2 in Zurich.

Fifa’s executive committee is to discuss the bidding process on Friday, with the format of the voting still to be announced.

The bidding process has been hit by controversy after allegations of corruption were reported in a UK newspaper.

Last week, two members of Fifa’s executive committee, Amos Adamu of Nigeria and Reynald Temarii from Tahiti, were provisionally suspended on suspicion of selling their votes in the contest to host the two tournaments.

Both have denied any wrongdoing and said that they expect to be cleared of the allegations.

Fifa’s ethics committee is due to make a definitive decision on the pair on November 17. It could extend the 30-day suspension, which could lead to only 22 voters participating in the December 2 election instead of 24.

Two bidders, named as Spain-Portugal and Qatar in the media, are also being investigated over allegations of collusion and vote-swapping to secure further support for their respective bids for the 2018 and 2022 tournaments. This is banned by Fifa rules.

Source: News Agencies