Russia not concerned by Garcia findings - Sorokin

The American lawyer is expected to submit a report on the findings of his investigation next month but the head of the 2018 hosts' organising committee has no fears
By Liam Twomey in Rio de Janeiro

Russia's plans to host the 2018 World Cup will not be affected by the outcome of Michael Garcia's Fifa investigation into corruption in world football, according to the head of the country's local organising committee.

Garcia is set to submit a report on his findings next month amid a cascade of stories published by the Sunday Times newspaper which allege serious impropriety in Qatar's successful bid to host the 2022 tournament.

Russia saw off the challenge of England as well as joint bids from Portugal and Spain and Belgium and Netherlands to win the 2018 competition, and Alexey Sorokin has reiterated that his team never contravened Fifa rules.

"We have no concerns with any report," he told reporters at an event to promote 'Russia House' at Rio de Janeiro's Museum of Modern Art, an installation to help disseminate Russian culture ahead of 2018.

"We have always said to everyone that the bid was transparent and within Fifa principles and ethics, so we have nothing to be intimidated by."

Concerns have been voiced about the vast distances involved in hosting a major international tournament in Russia, but Sorokin insists his organisation will work with Fifa to minimise the pain travel for fans - with possible solutions including teams playing group games in geographical 'clusters' and speed trains connecting host cities.

"Two speed trains are already operating from Moscow to St Petersburg and Moscow and Nizhny Novgorod," he added.

"There are plans to extend that line to Kazan. We’ll see how it will be implemented but there are plans to have speed trains connecting host cities.

"Our proposal would be for any given team to play all three group games in two adjacent clusters so they don’t have to travel all the way from one extreme city to another. But the gameplan is up to Fifa."

Russia's preparations for 2018 have been overshadowed by the ongoing political crisis in Ukraine, but Sorokin remains confident the fallout from the conflict will not deter fans from attending the tournament.

"Tourists will come to Russia to see the matches of the World Cup," he insisted. "They will not come to discuss political developments which, by then, will be all in the past.

"They will come to see the football and enjoy their trip to Russia, That is what they will get."