England file complaint against Alexei Sorokin over comments on 2018 World Cup bid
The team behind England's bid to host the 2018 World Cup have made a formal complaint to FIFA concerning comments made by Alexei Sorokin, sports minister of Russia and head of his country's bid to host
the same event.
The complaint is centered around comments made by Sorokin about the quality of England's bid to host the tournament.
Sorokin, whose country rivals England, Spain/Portugal and Belgium/Netherlands to host the tournament, was quoted by Russian daily Sport Express as downplaying the strength of England's bid due to London's
high crime rates and alcohol consumption by youths on 19 October.
The was also quoted as criticizing the English press for focusing too much on the purportedly racist abuse directed at former Lokomotiv Moscow stiker Peter Odemwingie by the Russian club's fans.
"I can only apologise for this misunderstanding," Sorokin said upon hearing of the complaint.
He also denied breaking any FIFA rules, which come down strongly on criticism of rival bids. "We have the tapes of the interview and I know for a fact that I didn't break any rules. I did not try to hurt
or discredit our bid rivals, there was no malice intended, I'm 100% sure of that."
Poor translation and journalism to blame
Instead, Sorokin claimed the meaning of his comments was lost in translation, and that Sport Express and the English journalists reporting on the story were to blame for the controversy that subsequently
"If you're talking specifically about my interview in the Sport Express and what the British media made out of it, I must say my words have been distorted in three different stages, creating all the fuss.
First, people in the Sport Express had interpreted some of my comments in a vague way, not exactly what I was trying to express. Second, much of it was lost in translation from Russian into English and then, the rest was made up by the English journalists
Sorokin had made the offending comments last week.
"It's no secret, for example, that London has the highest crime rate when compared with other European cities, and the highest level of alcohol consumption among young people," he'd said.
Sorokin had claimed he simply meant to highlight what he thought were unfair criticisms made against Russia, pointing out the same type of attack could also be launched aganst England.
The 2018 and 2022 host countries will be announced simultaneously by FIFA on 2 December.