Sorokin: Russian train attack will not harm bid

JOHANNESBURG - The bomb attack on the Moscow-St Petersburg train that left 26 people dead and scores injured on Friday would not damage Russia's hopes of staging the World Cup finals, according to their bid leader.

Alexei Sorokin, CEO of Russia's campaign to stage the World Cup in 2018 or 2022, also said negative publicity surrounding neighbours Ukraine's preparations for co-hosting Euro 2012 with Poland would not harm Russia's bid either.

Sorokin, speaking to reporters at the Soccerex business convention, said Russia's bid remained on course ahead of FIFA's decision on the hosts to be made in Zurich in 12 months time.

"I do not think this incident will have any impact on our bid," Sorokin said.

"Every country has suffered at one time or another from the point of view of terrorist attacks and there are very few exceptions among our (World Cup hosting) competitors here.

"We're a huge nation. We have about 180 nationalities. We have friends, we have enemies and we're a target like everyone else."

Sorokin also said that although Ukraine was once part of the Soviet Union and they still had close ties, the country's problems in the build-up to staging Euro 2012 would not cast a shadow across Russia's bid to stage the World Cup.

Europe's football governing body UEFA has expressed doubts about Ukraine's ability to stage the tournament, criticising what it called "huge infrastructure problems."

Asked if Ukraine's difficulties reflected badly on eastern Europe, Sorokin replied: "We do not think there is any link between what is happening in Ukraine and what is happening in Russia. It has been a long time since we separated.

"Politically and economically we have been two different countries for a long time. It is no secret that politically Ukraine is unstable but there is an absolutely stable situation in Russia."

Ukraine, which faces growing political uncertainty ahead of a bitterly contested presidential election in January, became independent after the collapse of the Soviet Union in 1991.

Sorokin added: "The ability for our country to provide all the resources we need for a major bid is not in doubt. We have staged 25 world championship events in Russia without a single incident or reprimand."

Russia is bidding to stage the World Cup in 2018, or possibly 2022, alongside Australia, England, Indonesia, Japan, Qatar, South Korea, United States, Belgium/Netherlands and Spain/Portugal.