Belfast Telegraph

Criticism of Russia is unfair, says Andre Villas-Boas

By Robert Jones

Andre Villas-Boas says criticism of Russia over racism and political issues is "unfair" and insists the 2018 World Cup will be "a wonderful event".

After troubled spells at Chelsea and Tottenham, Villas-Boas is rehabilitating his reputation in Russia's second city.

He joined Zenit in 2013 and coached the Gazprom-owned club to the Premier League title in his first season. St Petersburg hosts the 2018 World Cup draw tomorrow.

Villas-Boas said: "I think there are big conditions for the World Cup, because there are big investments and there will be magnificent stadiums. Obviously, there are occasional episodes with violence and racism, but I have seen the same in England, to the same extent. So I don't see that it's a problem."

Meanwhile Uefa will announce either today or early next week what, if any, punishment the Irish FA and/or their Romanian counterparts will face following firework incidents during last month's Euro 2016 qualifier at Windsor Park.

Croatia have been docked one point in European Championship qualifying after a swastika symbol was seen on their pitch.

During the 1-1 draw with Italy in Group H - played behind closed doors in Split after a previous instance of racist chanting by fans - the symbol appeared near one touchline.

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