FIFA President Gianni Infantino has remarked Russia will face any "necessary actions and sanctions" after it was alleged by investigators that soccer players had suspicious drug-test samples covered up as part of a wider doping scandal in Russia.
Emails released earlier this month by the World Anti-Doping Agency that accompanied investigator Richard McLaren's report into Russian doping revealed five suspicious samples in the Russian men's under-17 and under-21 national teams in 2013 and 2014. The then-sports minister Vitaly Mutko, who is also in charge of Russia's World Cup preparations, had been accused of covering up a doping case in the Russian league. The ethics committee of FIFA has remarked it will examine the report of McLaren and the role of Mutko, who sits on FIFA's ruling council.
Infantino when asked if he still trusts Mutko said he is a council member and of course we are working together. The FIFA President added if anything has happened with regards to doping cases in football which were covered up and which now are unveiled, then both FIFA as well as UEFA, depending on what the competence is for these particular cases, will be dealing with them and we will take the necessary actions and sanctions. It was also added by Infantino that he does not think we should mix up a doping issue, even if it is a big doping issue, with the organization for the World Cup which is a completely different thing where it comes to anti-doping in the World Cup. The FIFA President added this is a FIFA matter and It will be dealt with by FIFA officials in world accredited laboratories, very probably in Switzerland.
Infantino also said we will guarantee that the World Cup in Russia will be completely safe when it comes to anti-doping matters or when it comes to doping cases. Infantino, who replaced Sepp Blatter as head of world soccer's governing body following a sprawling scandal, said the world governing body of football has quite a few more sponsors who want to come on board for the 2018 edition. Infantino also commented that we have to get more creative to find ways to accommodate everyone but I think this is also proof that the image of FIFA is changing.
The FIFA President also said he has "overwhelming" backing from federations for a 48-team World Cup, starting with 16 groups of three teams. Infantino said the 48-team format is the most appealing or financially successful proposal as the sporting element is prevailing and every match is important. He also said the decision should not be financially driven, neither in terms of revenue or costs but the driver should really be the development of football and boosting football all over the world.
North America is considered by many to be the most likely host of the 2026 World Cup as it has not staged the showpiece since 1994 in the United States. The Confederation of North, Central America and Caribbean Association Football (CONCACAF) President Victor Montagliani remarked a joint bid between his native Canada, the United States, and Mexico remains a possible contender in the 2020 vote.
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