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18 Nov, 2022 10:01

Hundreds of Russians helping at Qatar World Cup – official

Russia has passed on its experience as host of the 2018 edition of the tournament
Hundreds of Russians helping at Qatar World Cup – official

Around 350 Russians are working as part of the organizing team for the FIFA World Cup in Qatar, football official Alexey Sorokin has revealed. 

Sorokin was head of the local organizing committees for the 2018 World Cup in Russia and the Euro 2020 matches held in St. Petersburg last year.

He has been among those to pass on their knowhow to help Qatar prepare for the world’s biggest sporting spectacle.

“Our experience and knowledge has flowed into the organization of the next World Cup. About 350 Russians work here in various functional areas: security, accreditation, facility management, volunteers, a lot of IT specialists,” Sorokin told Sport-Express this week.

“We have representatives in almost all areas of the organization. The team is very international. There are Greeks, British, Americans, Brazilians, Spaniards, Argentines. There’s a fairly high concentration of football experience. 

“I don’t want to give the impression that this is a completely ‘foreign’ championship in terms of personnel – there are a lot of Qataris. There are many colleagues from the Middle East: there are Jordanians, Lebanese.”

Qatar will become the first Arab nation to welcome the World Cup, as well as the smallest nation to host the event in its 92-year history.

The contrast in geographical size will be particularly stark when compared to the Russia World Cup, which spanned 12 stadiums across 11 host cities, ranging from Kaliningrad in the west to Ekaterinburg in the Urals.

The tournament in Russia was widely hailed as a major success, both on and off the pitch. Nonetheless, Sorokin said that organizers can never be “fully ready” – even if he praised Qatar for its efforts, including the adoption of free transport for fans, something seen in Russia four years ago.  

“It would be a little presumptuous to say that everything is definitely ready. I repeat once again – great preparations have been made [in Qatar], great efforts and funds have been invested,” said Sorokin.  

“The country takes the tournament very seriously. It can be said that it has united around this event – it has rallied the efforts of all branches of government, all departments.”

The build-up to the tournament in Qatar has been mired in Western media debate about conditions for migrant workers and the Gulf state’s treatment of the LGBT community.

Sorokin noted that Russia had also been criticized in the Western press in the lead-up to its own showpiece four years ago, with the same being true of Brazil in 2014 and South Africa in 2010.

In terms of Qatari customs clashing with fans’ attitudes, Sorokin recommended that visitors be aware of local traditions, but said he does not expect “excessive rigorism” from officials.

“Here, I would reduce it to respect for local orders and the amendment that this is not a European country. But I don’t expect any persecution or reprisals,” said Sorokin.

Russian President Vladimir Putin extended his best wishes to Qatar for the World Cup at a meeting with Emir Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad al-Thani on the sidelines of a summit in Astana last month.

Al-Thani thanked Russia for its support, praising it for provid[ing] great support to Qatar, especially in terms of organization.”

The Qatari team begin the tournament when they play Ecuador at the 60,000-seater Al-Bayt Stadium in Doha on Sunday.

The Russian team will be absent in Qatar after being banned from the European qualification playoffs because of the conflict in Ukraine.