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Russia: No apology to England in 2018 WCup dispute

Updated: October 26, 2010, 12:04

ZURICH(AP) The leader of Russia's 2018 World Cup bid says he will not apologize for his reported comments about London, which have prompted rival candidate England to make a formal complaint to FIFA.

Alexey Sorokin said Tuesday he will instead provide an explanation for his remarks published in a Russian newspaper last week. The comments were translated to say London had a high crime rate and problems with young people drinking alcohol.

"I don't feel that what I said originally requires an apology,'' he said at the International Football Arena conference. "I am sure there is a record of that which, if forced, I will have to find.''

Sorokin also questioned the timing of England's "strange complaint'' to FIFA, which sought a formal apology.

"I am surprised that it is now, at this time. The world of football has other issues to focus on,'' he said.

FIFA's ethics committee is investigating two executive committee members, four other officials and at least two bidders for alleged corruption in the 2018 and 2022 World Cup bids.

The ethics panel is aiming to complete those investigations before an expected meeting on Nov. 17.

Sorokin, Russia's bid chief executive, said he had respect for England's campaign. The two are competing with joint bids from Belgium-Netherlands and Spain-Portugal in the 2018 race that will be decided on Dec. 2.

FIFA bidding rules forbid candidates from criticizing their rivals.

Sorokin's interview with Sport Express was reported in English as "we do not enter into squabbles although we have much to say. It's no secret, for example, that London has the highest crime rate when compared with other European cities, and the highest level of alcohol consumption among young people.''

He explained on Tuesday he had been using a metaphor to explain how media in some countries focused on different problems.

"There are weaknesses, which many cities are prone to - Moscow, London, you name it,'' Sorokin said.

A former diplomat who worked at Russia's embassy from 1995-99 in Washington, D.C., Sorokin defended his London remarks while talking to reporters at the IFA gathering where he presented details of Russia's bid to soccer and marketing experts at a Zurich hotel near FIFA headquarters.

England did not take part at the conference, where 2022 World Cup bidders Australia and Japan also made their case.

The United States, South Korea and Qatar also are bidding for the 2022 World Cup.

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