MOSCOW (Reuters) - Russia will stage the 2018 soccer World Cup and will host it well, the Russian Football Union’s honorary president told Reuters on Monday, dismissing calls by Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko for his country’s allies to boycott the event.
Meanwhile, soccer’s world governing body FIFA said it believed the 2018 tournament in Russia would be a “force for good”.
Vyacheslav Koloskov, a former FIFA vice-president, said attempts to disrupt the tournament would fail, just as they had with last year’s Sochi Winter Olympics after some observers objected to Russia’s anti-gay propaganda laws.
“In terms of a boycott, unfortunately Poroshenko is not the first person to talk about this,” Koloskov told Reuters by telephone.
“There were also attempts to boycott the Winter Olympics. No one was able to do anything then and I think exactly the same will happen with regards to the World Cup.
“Sepp Blatter often says that politics is politics and football is football. Of course he will not allow a boycott to happen. In Ukraine they don’t know anymore what they are trying to achieve. First one thing, then another, then a third thing...
“We will host the 2018 World Cup and we will host it well.”
“I would not want to compare things with the 1980 Olympics when a number of countries boycotted it due to political motives,” he added.
Koloskov warned that if a country qualified and decided not to take part, they could be banned from the next World Cup.
“I don’t think anyone will be risking a boycott given the likely consequences,” he said
FIFA said in a statement to Reuters that it “deplores any form of violence and will continue to use its tournaments to promote dialogue, understanding and peace among peoples.”
“History has shown so far that boycotting sport events or a policy of isolation or confrontation are not the most effective ways to solve problems,” FIFA said.
“FIFA is convinced that, through football, particularly the FIFA World Cup and its international spotlight, we can achieve positive change in the world, but football cannot be seen as a solution for all issues, particularly those related to world politics.
“We have seen that the FIFA World Cup can be a force for good and FIFA believes this will be the case for the 2018 FIFA World Cup in Russia.”
Poroshenko had used social media to voice his views, posting on his personal Twitter feed: “While ever there are Russian forces in Ukraine, I believe that holding the World Cup in that country (Russia) is not possible.”
In an interview with German newspaper Bild, he urged his country’s allies to consider a boycott if Moscow does not pull all its troops out of his country’s territory.
“I think there has to be discussion of a boycott of this World Cup,” said Poroshenko, who was in Berlin on an official visit on Monday.
The Ukrainian president is to ask Germany’s Chancellor Angela Merkel to push for tougher sanctions on Russia because of what he described as repeated separatist violations of the ceasefire which she helped broker last month.
Writing by Brian Homewood in Berne, additional reporting by Stephen Brown and Richard Balmforth, editing by Ed Osmond