Western attempts to use politics to undermine the 2018 World Cup are regrettable, but won’t keep fans from enjoying the tournament, Alexey Sorokin, head of Russia’s World Cup organizing committee, told Sophie Shevardnadze.
Speaking on Shevardnadze’s interview program SophieCo, Sorokin said it was unfortunate that some nations have disrespected the spirit of the World Cup by trying to use the international football tournament to score political points.
Responding to Shevardnadze’s comment that “UK Foreign Secretary [Boris] Johnson compared the World Cup in Russia to the Nazi Olympics in 1936,” Sorokin noted that “some officials do not fully understand or do not fully accept the principle of football being beyond politics. That’s a fundamental principle of the world football.”
He added: “We regret that some people may have opinions but it’s their own opinions, it doesn’t influence opinions of many other football fans who are buying tickets every day in large volumes. We have very good ticket sales.”
According to Sorokin, even with rumors swirling that the royal family and various UK officials will boycott the event, British football fans are still buying tickets in “decent numbers,” and, in fact, are among the leaders in Europe when it comes to ticket sales.
The Russian official acknowledged that the current political situation was “uneasy” and presented certain challenges for Russia as the host nation, but added that the games would go on.
“There’s even a ticket deficit for certain games. And we’re certain that the stadiums will be full,” Sorokin said.
Despite what British tabloids have recently reported, Sorokin told Shevardnadze that all necessary precautions have been taken to ensure a safe and enjoyable tournament.