Russia’s sports minister Vitaly Mutko on Tuesday criticised alliances in the race to host football’s World Cup in 2018, insisting that the Russian bid had sold itself on its merits.
“We do not support the idea of any alliance or collusion,” Mutko told journalists
“We would certainly like these alliances and collusions not to happen,” he added, after being questioned about an alleged deal between Spain-Portugal’s bid for 2018 and 2022 candidate Qatar to support each other in voting.
Mutko is also a member of the executive committee of world football’s governing body that will choose the hosts of sports biggest crowd puller on Thursday.
England is bidding to win the 2018 tournament ahead of bookmakers favourites Russia and joint bids from Spain and Portugal and Holland and Belgium.
The 2022 race sees Australia, the United States, Qatar, Japan and South Korea vying for the tournament.
Concerns have been raised in recent weeks about the unusual decision to hold the race to host the two World Cups simultaneously, amid fears that it gives greater weight to behind-the-scenes political swaps rather than the sporting, economic or technical merits of bidding nations.
The president of FIFA, Sepp Blatter, has admitted that with hindsight the decision may have been a mistake.
Eight of the nine nations vying for the two World Cups have representatives on the 22 strong executive committee that will vote for the hosts in secret ballots on Thursday. Australia is the only potential host without a vote.