MOSCOW (Reuters) - Russian President Vladimir Putin said on Tuesday security at the 2018 World Cup would be “effective but not intrusive”, underlining to his security chiefs the need for subtle measures that will not scare off fans.
At a meeting of Russian and FIFA officials, Putin won support from FIFA president Sepp Blatter for Russia’s staging of the soccer championship despite calls by some Western officials to move it elsewhere because of Moscow’s role in Ukraine.
Putin urged the security services to work together to make sure the tournament, to be staged in 12 stadiums in 11 Russian cities at a cost of 664 billion roubles ($15.6 billion), passes off without problems.
“Here there should be complete cooperation, coordination of work of all services and departments. It should be marked for personal responsibility,” Putin told a meeting of Russian, regional and FIFA officials.
“Security measures should be effective, but not intrusive, not excessive,” he said. “Do not create problems, or discomfort for athletes and fans.”
Although winning the right to host the World Cup stirred national pride, Moscow has faced calls for the finals to be played elsewhere because of its role in the Ukraine crisis and some Western officials have suggested a boycott.
Blatter said it was impossible to boycott football.
“FIFA firmly supports holding this championship in Russia,” he told the same meeting.
For Putin, the World Cup, like the Winter Olympics Russia staged in February, are projects aimed at showing how Russia has developed since Soviet days into a modern state worthy of a seat at the table of top nations.
But the Winter Olympics, held at Sochi, put the spotlight on corruption, cronyism and cost overruns, rather than on sport.
(1 US dollar = 42.4740 Russian rouble)
Writing by Elizabeth Piper; Editing by Rex Gowar