Russian chief sticks boot in to England bid

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Russia's 2018 World Cup bid leader has highlighted London's "high crime rate" and youth alcohol problems in an interview which appears to contravene FIFA's bidding rules prohibiting comments about rival bidders.

Alexei Sorokin first insisted that the Russian bid did not want to get into public squabbles with England before going on to denigrate their rivals.

Sorokin, chief executive of the bid, told a Russian daily newspaper: "It's no secret . . . that in London they have the highest crime rate compared with other European cities, and the highest level of alcohol consumption among young people."

Sorokin went on to again insist that a banner with a picture of a banana aimed at West Brom's striker Peter Odemwingie and produced by fans of his former club Lokomotiv Moscow was not racist, and he points out that anti-Glazer fans had burned an American flag at Old Trafford on the same day.

"The banner was not a racist one. It was directed against a particular player who got very good money, lived very well here, but for some reason did not seem to want to play well."

It is unclear whether Sorokin will face any FIFA sanction.