England refuse to rise to Russia jibes

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The Independent Football

England's 2018 World Cup bid team will not be responding to the latest remarks criticising their campaign from Russia.

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

Koloskov's remarks came in response to a formal complaint made by England to world governing body FIFA concerning the conduct of the Russian bid's leader.

England complained to FIFA that Alexei Sorokin, chief executive of Russia 2018, had highlighted London's "high crime rate" and youth alcohol problems in an interview that appeared to contravene FIFA's rules on talking about rival bidders.

Koloskov 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's comments were made to Russian sports website www.championat.ru and translated by a fluent Russian speaker working for ITV.com.

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

His comments therefore cannot be acted upon by FIFA and it is understood England 2018 do not feel it is right to make an official response.

The English position has not changed from yesterday, when they were thought to be seeking a formal apology from Sorokin.

They understand FIFA's ethics committee is currently very busy - following accusations of World Cup voting corruption - and are prepared to draw a line under the matter if that apology is forthcoming.

Sorokin, who claims he was mistranslated, has sent a letter of explanation to FIFA and England 2018.

"I will provide an explanation to FIFA but I do not feel that what I said originally requires an apology," he said.

England are thought to be considering whether to respond to the letter.

Meanwhile, the joint Spain and Portugal bid to host the 2018 World Cup have denied claims of alleged collusion with Qatar, who are looking to stage the 2022 competition.

FIFA are currently investigating "rumours" of an agreement between two countries bidding separately for the 2018 and 2022 tournaments to exchange votes, something explicitly forbidden by the regulations.

Although FIFA did not name the countries, former FIFA general secretary Michel Zen-Ruffinen is alleged to have told undercover reporters that the Spain-Portugal bid has struck a deal with Qatar.

However, Miguel Angel Lopez, general manager of the Candidatura Iberica World Cup bid, said today: "The Candidatura Iberica already told FIFA last Wednesday that it does not have any agreement with any other candidate and that I'm ready to work with FIFA to clear this matter up."

Aside from Spain/Portugal, England and Russian, the other 2018 bid comes from Holland/Belgium, while the 2022 World Cup hosts will be from Australia, USA, Qatar, Japan and South Korea.

The winning bids are set to be announced following a vote by the FIFA executive committee in Zurich on December 2.

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