The head of the Local Organizing Committee (LOC) Alexey Sorokin has said that the 2018 World Cup played a crucial role of forming a new positive attitude towards Russia, destroying myths that had existed before the tournament.
Speaking exclusively to RT, Sorokin said that he was pleased with the organization of the World Cup, which attracted millions of fans from around the world.
“We are happy to have a lot of positive feedback and a lot of positive reactions in social media. We are happy that Russia became a home for many fans and players,” Sorokin said.
“Everything that we planned has been successfully implemented. All the things that we had in mind worked very well: Fan ID, free transport, free shuttles. Fan Fest outside Red Square has been enormously popular.”
Sorokin said that Russia’s sensational World Cup run was among the most memorable moments of the month-long championship.
“The national team surprised everybody not only with the quality of their performance, but the level of determination they showed on the pitch was very surprising,” he said.
The LOC chief stressed the fact that the World Cup changed foreign people’s attitude towards Russia, helping to destroy myths created by the Western media, which had portrayed the host country as a hostile nation.
“This World Cup changed the perception of Russia in every aspect. First of all, we have fulfilled every promise we made to the football community. Secondly, we can be proud of an absolutely wonderful atmosphere. Everybody who wanted to come to Russia had an opportunity to come here. They saw an absolutely new Russia: hospitable, smiling, open. It’s a game-changer,” he said.
“To understand a country you need to personally be there, not to read about it. Most of the people who were here said that they would like to come back. And that’s probably the best result of our work,” he added.
Talking about the biggest sensations at the tournament, Sorokin said that the early exits of some front-runners were among the most unpredictable results.
“Germany went home a little bit early. Everybody expected that Spain would have stayed in the tournament longer. We are happy that our team sent them home but, still, that was a surprise. Croatia also surprised us, this is the first time their team have made it so far.”