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Russia has 'played fair' in World Cup bid

From Matthew Chance, CNN
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Sorokin: Russia bid has 'played fair'
  • Alexei Sorokin has told CNN Russia have "played fair" in their 2018 World Cup bid
  • A report by The Sunday Times alleged FIFA members were willing to take bribes
  • Sorokin was also in the news for commenting on England's bid to host the tournament

(CNN) -- Alexei Sorokin, chief executive of the Russian campaign to host the 2018 World Cup, has exclusively told CNN that his organization has "played fair" throughout the bid process, despite allegations that a FIFA executive member had been offered a bribe to vote for Russia.

Speaking about the controversy surrounding the Russian bid, Sorokin said: "We have always been keen on playing fair, of not offering these incentives and not being any part of this indecent behavior. We intend to keep it this way. Russia is not in any way involved in these things."

Sorokin hit back at recent claims made by Nigerian Amos Adamu, a FIFA executive committee member who alleged the Russian team offered him incentives in exchange for his support, something which is strictly forbidden under FIFA's rules for the bidding and voting process.

Adamu has been suspended while FIFA investigate a report by British newspaper The Sunday Times, which claimed some current or former FIFA officials were open to bribery. Football's global governing body is set to announce its findings on November 14.

We have always been keen on playing fair, of not offering these incentives and not being any part of this indecent behavior
--Alexei Sorokin

"We indeed hosted Mr. Adamu here in Russia, presented our bid etc," said Sorokin. "But there was never any conversation about an incentive or anything that could be perceived as improper."

A final announcement on who will host the 2018 and 2022 tournaments will be made in Zurich on December 2 after a secret ballot of 24 FIFA executive committee members, a process which has come under scrutiny for its lack of transparency.

Sorokin believes there is nothing wrong with the current voting system and sees no reason for it to be changed.

"I think this process now is as transparent as it could be," he said. "It's always been like this there are some traditions that are simply there. I don't think there's any point to change that."

In addition to corruption controversy, Sorokin has also been in the news for comments he made regarding England's bid to host the 2018 tournament, criticizing the crime rate in the country's capital London and the drinking habits of its young people.

The Russian bid team has since apologized to its English counterparts, but Sorokin is yet to apologize personally and insists the matter is now resolved.

"We've closed this issue a long time ago," he said. "We've agreed to bury the hatchet with the English bid.

"I did not apologize. But we explained to them the essence of the matter, and the issue is now closed.