England to withdraw Russia complaint after apology

England to withdraw Russia complaint after apology

England filed an official complaint with world football's governing body about reported comments by Russian bid leader Alexey Sorokin that London has a high crime rate and a youth drinking problem.

As tensions rose ahead of the December 2 vote, Vyacheslav Koloskov, the international relations chief for Russia's bid, then denounced England's complaint to FIFA as "absolutely primitive" and a sign of their "nervousness."

But the spat was resolved yesterday when England's campaign officials met Russia bid chairman Vitaly Mutko over breakfast in Zurich where the bidding nations have been lobbing for support from FIFA's executive committee members.

"Mutko approached England 2018 chairman Geoff Thompson with a genuine apology in an honorable manner," England 2018 said in a statement to The Associated Press. "We, of course, accepted this apology and appreciate the gesture. We now wish to move on from this matter."

Sorokin had earlier told the daily Sports Express that journalists misinterpreted his comment and he didn't mean to criticise London.

The comments from Sorokin and Koloskov appeared to push the limits of FIFA's rule that warns bidders not to attack other candidates.

FIFA has empowered its ethics committee to monitor bidders' behavior in the two-year lobbying contest. Candidates are also forbidden from offering inducements to the 24 voters on FIFA's executive committee or making vote-trading deals.

The ethics panel is currently investigating two voters, four former executive members and two bidders for alleged corruption in the 2018 and 2022 contests.

Chaired by lawyer and former Switzerland international player Claudio Sulser, the panel is expected to publish its findings on November 17.

Russia and England are up against joint bids from Spain and Portugal, and Belgium and the Netherlands in the race to host the 2018 World Cup. The 2022 contest is between the United States, Australia, Japan South Korea and Qatar.

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