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England bid team happy after Russians apologise

England’s 2018 bid team are ready to withdraw their complaint to FIFA against the head of Russia's World Cup bid after receiving an apology from the Russian Sports Minister.

The English bid team had complained that Alexei Sorokin, chief executive of Russia 2018, highlighted London's “high crime rate” and youth alcohol problems in an interview that appeared to contravene FIFA's rules about talking about rival bidders.

Tensions between the rival tournament bidders then intensified after Viacheslav Koloskov, honorary president of the Russian Football Union, referred to England 2018 as “absolutely primitive” and “comical”.

However the England 2018 team are keen to move on from the controversy.

Russian Sports Minister Vitaly Mutko was keen to bring the bidding back on more friendly terms.

A spokesperson for England 2018 said: “Mr Mutko approached England 2018 chairman Geoff Thompson with a genuine apology. We, of course, accepted this apology and appreciate the gesture. We now wish to move on from this matter.”

Earlier in the day, England's 2018 World Cup bid team decided against responding to the remarks from Koloskov which had come in response to the formal complaint.

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Koloskov had said: “It's a comical situation. The English are afraid of how badly their bid is going.

“Their journalists are provoking members of the committee, and they now say one of the members of our bidding team has spoken out against England in an improper manner.

“I think it's a raising of tensions, and also an attempt to in some way influence the work of our bidding team.

“These acts have little chance of success. Russia should not be afraid of sanctions. There won't even be an investigation.

“The behaviour of the English is absolutely primitive. Instead of talking about their own excellence and merits, they try to put off their opponents.”

Koloskov is a former member of FIFA and UEFA's executive committees but not a formal member of the Russian bid team.

His comments therefore could not be acted upon by FIFA and England 2018 did not feel it right to make an official response.

The English bid team were hoping the Russians would approach them with an apology for the initial remarks and were satisfied when it came from the Sports Minister.

The complaint is in the process of being formally withdrawn.


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