Alexey Sorokin says his country remains a ‘reliable partner’ for FIFA and UEFA
Russia remains ready to welcome major tournaments as soon as the current sanctions levied by FIFA and UEFA are lifted, according to football official Alexey Sorokin.
The world and European football governing bodies have banned Russian teams from their competitions at all levels because of the conflict in Ukraine, as well as removing the right for Russia to host events.
Russia has a recent track record of successfully holding major football showpieces – including the 2018 FIFA World Cup and seven matches as part of the UEFA 2020 European Championships.
Sorokin was head of the local organizing committee for both tournaments, and vowed that his country could do the same once the current restrictions are removed.
“Of course we’ll be able to hold [major events], people aren’t going anywhere, just like the infrastructure. The potential is as it was – and will remain,” Sorokin told RIA Novosti in Qatar, where he has been assisting with the organization of the ongoing World Cup.
“The main difficulty lies in the sporting aspect. Our teams need to play, we’re talking not only about the main national team, but about all levels.
“I have no doubt about the safety of our ability to do something and continue to be a reliable partner of FIFA and UEFA, as we have repeatedly shown.
“We proved that we can lend a hand when, for example, during Euro 2020 we played three matches more than planned.
“There are many such stories. The question is how long politics will have an impact on sports.”
As a result of UEFA sanctions, Russia was stripped of the right to host the 2022 Champions League final, which was due to be held in St. Petersburg in May.
The match was moved to Paris, where it was marred by the police treatment of visiting fans.
Russia also expressed interest in bidding for the 2028 or 2032 editions of the European Championships, although UEFA rejected that possibility.
The sanctions against Russia have fueled speculation that the Russian Football Union (RFU) could switch from UEFA to its Asian counterpart, the AFC.
Sorokin was coy when asked about that possibility.
“These ideas are hovering in the air, mainly thanks to the efforts of [journalists], because I haven’t heard anything official about this,” he said.
“But it’s natural that everyone is thinking about ways out of the current situation. My personal opinion is that it is necessary to analyze all the ways, because teams can’t stop playing for a long time.
“It will kill football, which everyone understands – I hope not only in our country.”
On the eve of the World Cup in Qatar, Sorokin said that hundreds of Russians were involved in the organization of the tournament – with many passing on their expertise and experience from the event four years ago.
Sorokin said that despite international tensions elsewhere, “none of my colleagues felt any isolationism or bias.”
“A team of sports experts has gathered here, to one degree or another everyone shares the conviction that sport should be outside of politics,” said Sorokin.
“The whole team is united by one goal – the organization of a wonderful championship. This is how this work was done.
“Indeed, there was no political coloring, in all organizations there was a working and constructive atmosphere.”
December 13, 2022 at 03:39PM