Transcript of the Joint Press Conference by Arkady Dvorkovich and Alexei Sorokin

Transcript of the Joint Press Conference by Arkady Dvorkovich and Alexei Sorokin

Moderator (Moscow): Good morning, dear colleagues and guests. I am glad to welcome you in the Moscow Press Centre. Today we are having a joint press conference with president of the 2018 FIFA World Cup RussiaTM Local Organising Committee Arkady Dvorkovich and 2018 FIFA World Cup RussiaTM Local Organising Committee CEOAlexei Sorokin.

The event will be in video-conference format and will link all the press centres of the cities that host the FIFA World Cup 2018.

Good morning, dear guests. Thank you for coming. I would like to start with a question. Gianni Infantino, the head of FIFA, said that the 2018 World Football Cup is the best in history. What is your assessment? Do you think the host cities have coped with their task or perhaps some shortcomings have cropped up?

Arkady Dvorkovich: Thank you. Good morning everyone. Today is July 14, 2018. Two days to go till the end of FIFA World Cup 2018 in Russia. I would not like to give an assessment, but judging by all the reactions that we have had the event was a real success. This is the opinion above all of the fans who visited the World Cup, the people who were in the host cities, who traveled around the country in anticipation of the event, while being part of it. This is also the opinion of TV viewers who voted for the World Cup by turning on their TV sets. The TV audience is huge, the figures will be given today and later.

I think that the work during all these years (the Local Organizing Committee and all our partners and colleagues have worked for several years) can be assessed as excellent. The cities have risen to the occasion in every way: in terms of hospitality above all, and in terms of safety and comfort for all those who participated in the World Cup, I mean the players, the teams as a whole and journalists and fans — all those who were in Russia during these days.

Most importantly, our citizens, the people who live in Russia and for whom it is their native land, have shown who we are, have shown what Russia is really like: open, friendly and hospitable. I think we all assumed huge responsibility not only for the matches and the World Cup but for everyone who came to us, for every guest who was in our country, and we have lived up to this responsibility, we have done everything to make every fan happy. I think the overwhelming majority of the World Cup guests, and of course our citizens, are pleased with how it turned out.

Moderator (Moscow): Thank you very much, over to you, Alexei.

Alexei Sorokin: Good morning, dear colleagues. I would like to talk you through the main aspects of the World Cup, which is, sadly, drawing to a close. The tournament has turned out to be very exciting. The figures, the main parameters speak for themselves. Many records were set, there were many figures unprecedented in football history. On the whole, of course, we subscribe to the assessments: the tournament in the eyes of the organizers turned out to be a great success. A success both on and off the pitch.

Speaking about the football aspect, I have to say a few words about our team. Without exaggeration, it did a brilliant job, it demonstrated very good play. For the first time the Russian team made it to the quarterfinal of the World Cup, and we congratulate the guys on this. Our side made the top five in terms of scoring: eleven goals won it the fourth place. Our halfback Roman Zlobin turned out to have the most stamina, having covered 62 kilometres on the pitch. That, of course, is a stunning result. I would like to join in the congratulations to our team.

On the whole attendance pleasantly surprised us (98 percent of the tickets were sold), tomorrow we will approach the 3 million mark of tickets acquired one way or another. You have seen yourselves that there were hardly any vacant seats at the stadiums. That is, we have shown to the whole world that we are truly a football nation and that we really love football.

There were many novelties at the World Cup. They include the video assistance system for referees, which has proven its worth, and the fourth replacement, which was used at the World Cup for the first time. Incidentally, our team was the first team to avail itself of the fourth replacement. Away from football, there was identification of fans (I am sure we'll talk more about it later on), free inter-city rail links, free shuttle buses within cities, free transport in general and many other novelties which all worked as planned.

The transport system did a fine job, the load on our airports and railway stations was huge. In general during the World Cup our airports "digested" 15 million passengers, a really stunning figure. We are grateful to our Ministry of Transport for the excellent organisation of free trains: more than 300,000 people took advantage of these trains, which were 70 percent full. This is very good showing, the initiative went down very well with the fans, especially foreigners.

Fan festivals were hugely popular. There a record of sorts was set, too. More than 7 million people attended them, that is, more than in Brazil. Indeed, these areas where matches could be watched were so popular that Moscow had to stage one more festival near Spartak Stadium for which we are very grateful to the city's authorities.

Alexei Sorokin: Of course, we have registered a huge surge of tourism: within a short space of time we hosted more than a million foreign visitors. An unprecedented and even history-making number.

On the whole our guests, our teams, as Arkady Dvorkovich has said, are pleased. All the teams when they were leaving thanked the organisers, everyone came away with warm feelings after doing a lot of flying and seeing our country. Another remarkable figure: the players covered a distance six times the length of a round- the-world journey. That is all for starters. Thank you. We are ready to take your questions.

Moderator (Moscow): Thank you very much. I open it up for questions, dear colleagues.

Question: Good morning. My name is Evgeny Yeryomkin, RIA Novosti. Hotels were built for the World Cup even in cities where there were none before, along with road infrastructure, airports and stadiums бof course. How will this legacy be used in the future? Thank you.

Arkady Dvorkovich: Yes, indeed the World Cup leaves a huge legacy. Running ahead I would like to say that apart from infrastructural improvements the main legacy, in my opinion, is a change in the look of the country, a change in people's mood (which is the most important thing at the end of the day) and the skills of many thousands of people who were in one way or another involved in the preparation and holding of the World Cup. People have changed, that is the most important thing. But what you mentioned is also critically important, the material infrastructure.

Speaking about sport infrastructure, in addition to stadiums there are also training camps, venues which will be used first and foremost to train young football players. New clubs will be formed, football schools will develop and this material base will be one hundred percent utilised all the time.

A stadium, as the biggest sport facility, is a complicated infrastructure. Most stadiums are being used by professional clubs, either by our top league or by one of the other leagues.

Two stadiums, Luzhniki and the stadium in Sochi, are a separate case in themselves. They are part of huge sports parks and not just stand-alone stadiums. I would view them as part of these huge sports facilities. They will not perhaps be used as frequently at present as the other stadiums, but they are nevertheless parts of a huge infrastructure. Luzhniki is the man stadium of the Russian national team and the Sochi stadium is an excellent base in the south which can be used in difficult periods weather-wise, I mean in winter, by various teams. I am sure that various teams will do it after the World Cup, but I hope that some day a club may be set up there.

As for the remaining infrastructure let me say outright that it would have been created anyway, but later, not in such a concentrated manner and perhaps not so strictly in accordance with all the requirements and standards set by FIFA, which is an international organisation. It is very important that we have done it in such a short time, I mean the airports, roads, hotels and all the rest of it. We did it faster than we would otherwise have done. Now this is an immense stimulus for the development of tourism in the country, for improving logistics in the whole country both inside the country for our citizens and for our guests. This infrastructure will be used to the full.

Of course, we built some of the airports with an eye to future growth. They will be filled, I mean they will hit full capacity, in five or seven years' time. But that is okay. We have a margin of strength and we can now develop infrastructure in other parts of our vast country.

So I think that the contribution to the country's development is very large. What is important is not so much the concrete percentage of the GDP but the fact that it is a new growth point. Tourism, travel, movement — this is a new source of growth which we did not have and which we have formed as a result of the World Cup.

Moderator (Moscow): Thank you very much. Next question.

Question: A question from Australia. Mr. Dvorkovich, the first question is, what was the most interesting match that you watched? Second question: how do you rate your chances in this historical building where Kasparov became world champion, in the battle for the presidency of FIDE? Thank you.

Arkady Dvorkovich: Thank you. All the matches were interesting. I would not like to single out any one of them. But of course in terms of importance the Russia-Croatia match was certainly the most important and was very, very interesting. I would have singled out that match anyway in spite of our team's defeat. It was still our victory, making it to the quarter final and playing at such a high level.

There were of course other interesting matches. At the very start of the World Cup there were such beautiful games as Russia-Saudi Arabia where there was a lot of scoring, and then Portugal-Spain (3 — 3) in Sochi was a fine game, I remember the match between France and Argentina (4 — 3), a wonderful game. Many matches were memorable, even if not very exciting, for their high quality of play. France — Belgium was a wonderful game in the semi-finals, very high level of play.

I am sure that we will see two very interesting matches, for third place and the finals. Sometimes they are boring. But I think for some reason that they will not be boring here at our World Cup and we will see truly beautiful play.

There were very few uninteresting matches, France and Denmark. I have already spoken publicly about that — they surely did not make us happy with their play. Both England and Belgium did not try their best in a match they both did not need. So let us see what will happen in the third-place match between the same teams. I think things will be merrier than during that game in Kaliningrad. 

Speaking about my upcoming plans, indeed this stage looks like a World Cup match. I used to sit in this hall watching the games. I want to say that we discussed this topic including with FIFA president Gianni Infantino, and he expressed interest in cooperation between FIFA and FIDE if I am elected the FIDE president. I think this cooperation would be mutually useful for developing primarily the FIDE, which has fewer competences in holding and in overall arranging of sport infrastructure than FIFA. The latter has accrued more successful experience and has much to offer and to learn from.

Nevertheless, the intellectual component of chess, I think, can help in developing football. First of all it is about children's football, the very first steps when football intellect must be developed. And chess can be a good helper here. Of course, I will completely immerse in the election campaign within a couple of days but we are still having a news conference about the FIFA World Cup. In any case, just like here, at the World Cup, I look forward to victory: here we see the victory of the organizers. I hope for victory at FIDE, too. Thank you.

Moderator (Moscow): Thank you very much. Let us give other cities a chance to join our news conference. We welcome Nizhny Novgorod. Good afternoon, colleagues.

Moderator (Nizhny Novgorod): Our colleagues in Moscow and in the other cities, Nizhny Novgorod greets you and congratulates everyone on the successful holding of the World Cup. Even though there are still two more days left, I am sure that everything will be just fine. I would like to give the floor to a colleague who will ask a question on behalf of Nizhny Novgorod journalists.

Question: Good morning. Mr. Dvorkovich, a question for you. You said that after the World Cup Russia will continue to host major international events. We have already hosted the Winter Olympics and the Confederations Cup. And now the World Football Cup. What next? Can we host the Summer Olympics? Can we bid for it at present? What World Cup cities may vie for hosting the Summer Olympics? And as we are in Nizhny Novgorod, we would like to ask you what is in store for Nizhny. What other international sporting events can we expect in the coming years? Thank you.

Arkady Dvorkovich: Thank you very much. The next big event in Nizhny Novgorod will be a Russian one, the Football Super Cup between Lokomotiv and CSKA. I think they will play on the 27th. I hope it will be an interesting match.

More broadly, we have a number of big events coming; the Winter Universiade in Krasnoyarsk in February of next year. And the UEFA Euro 2020 to be held in St.Petersburg. As far as I remember four matches will be played — three in the group and one in the play-off. It is a very big event. I very much hope that the Russian Football Union will bid for major football forums at various levels, I mean youth championships, women's perhaps. We are also able to host the finale of European club championship finals in any of the host cities. As regards capacity, there is enough. Some stadiums will probably be picked. I hope such bids will be submitted.

Speaking about Summer Olympics, I think it is early days to discuss this matter. That said, such an idea has occurred. I had an occasion to say this somewhere. I think Russia deserves to host the Summer Olympics, but when and how to submit its bid, this is up to the Olympic Committee and the country's leadership to decide. The discussion, I have no doubt will take place, but not this year. Thank you.

There will be many events in any case. Nizhny Novgorod is one of the worthy venues.

Moderator (Moscow): Thank you very much. Those present in this room please.

Question (via interpreter): My name is Jamil Chandin, I come from Brazil. I have two questions. First, why is it that while we were concentrating on matches, Russia the issue of the pension — I would like to know your opinion, Mr. Dvorkovich. Why did the change occur during the World Cup, and also the same thing with VAT? The second question concerns European fans. I indeed did not see as many of them as there were Chinese or Latin American fans. Why do you think was the case?

Arkady Dvorkovich (via interpreter): The first question. As you know, I was with the Government for six years, and discussions on the retirement age and a VAT reform have been ongoing for several years. 2018 is the year of the Russian presidential election whereas the FIFA World Cup just coincided with that event. It coincided with the time when the changes in the government were made following the presidential election, and it is natural for a government to start certain reforms. We were also preparing for them before, and there is no connection between these events, this is a pure coincidence in time.

As to pension reform, the reform of the value-added tax, both which have been actively discussed in the past few weeks… The parliament has been debating these proposals and it is unrelated to football. We are speaking about football, and it isn't worthwhile speaking about politics now. We have very many footballers who showed their best, for example, Sergei Ignashevich who announced the completion of his career after the match against Croatia. There are other examples of mature players, such as goalkeepers in other national teams. New technologies, medicine and a new lifestyle all of which allow people to work longer and play football longer.

Alexei Sorokin (via interpreter): As to the fans from European countries, there are not many of them among the top ten countries purchasing most of the tickets. There are a number of reasons for that. We can only conjure and make guesses why Europeans did not come en mass to cheer for their teams. There might be many reasons but the key thing is that they got the feel of our World Cup as it moved along. For example, 18,000 people registered in England, and in the course of the Cup they were joined by another 12,000. They managed to defeat all the prejudices they might have had. They came and saw that we are happy to see fans from all corners of the world, that they will be welcome with the same hospitality as the others. Yes, in terms of percentage points Latin America is way ahead.

Moderator (Moscow): Your question, please, the last but one row.

Question: Thank you, I am Artyom Korotky, Rosgvardia Segodnya. How do you assess the security level at the World Cup events? Did the law enforcement agency, Rosgvardia and police in particular, cope with the tasks assigned to t hem? Thank you.

Arkady Dvorkovich: I personally as the chairman of the organizing committee I rate the work of our colleagues, partners at a very high level. Security was provided at a very serious level. This was aided by new modern technologies, the use of FAN IDs, use of information infrastructure that was created, systems of video surveillance, data analysis, of course, cooperation with law enforcement authorities of other countries, our partners, first and foremost, the countries where most of the fans came from. All this facilitated our holding the FIFA World Cup with the highest level of security. We are doing this every minute, all services continue to work and cooperate. We are in a constant contact, we work together in operational centers both in Moscow and the regions. This is a valueless experience which we accumulated when preparing and holding the World Cup and which we will be using further. 

Alexei Sorokin: I would like to add, if possible. Two small factors: no incidents in the stadiums during the entire World Cup, knock on wood. Of course, there are two matches remaining, but nevertheless, we are drawing a conclusion as of today. This is the first thing. And second, a lot of serious foreign football colleagues approached me and said: "You know, the first country where border guards, security guards smile and say "Welcome!" The say they never saw anything like this, what have you done to them?… I believe we coped excellently. Calmly, friendly, politely, without any difficulties. Good result, definitely.

Arkady Dvorkovich: Yes, there are not only volunteers whom everyone praises, who did everything wonderfully at the World Cup, but there are also employees of other services who worked liked volunteers with the same smiles and the same hospitality. This is great indeed.

Moderator (Moscow): And now let's pass the floor to our colleagues in Rostov-on-Don. Good afternoon!

Moderator (Rostov-on-Don): Good afternoon, colleagues. We greet you from the venue of the City Press Center at Rostov-on-Don. Dear guests, how do you asses the level of football at the World Cup and which match stands out in your memory?

Arkady Dvorkovich: I have already spoken about this. In this case I am a football fan, not an expert but I really liked the football played at this World Cup both in terms of scoring, and beauty and quality of the games. Let me repeat that I didn't enjoy only one particular match, all of them gave fans, and I am also a fan, a truly esthetic experience. Of course, all the matches of our team stuck in my memory. It is a different matter that there were two matches with utmost intensity that stand out in my mind — the games against Spain and Croatia. 

Alexei Sorokin: Even if we consider the matters unemotionally, statistically speaking the World Cup scoring rate of 2.6 goals per match and just one nil-nil draw is a very good result for any World Cup. There was good attacking football, with lots of goals and bright and exciting play. That's the most simple of statistics. Indeed, in terms of sports the World Cup turned out to be brilliant.

Moderator (Moscow): Thank you very much. And colleagues from the floor again, please. You are welcome with your question.

Question: Hello! I am from the Globo Channel, Brazil. We saw many people at the World Cup, people gathered in public places, all having fun on Nikolskaya Steet, where people were drinking in the streets, making friends. Is it normally prohibited to drink alcohol outside? And sometimes mass gatherings not scheduled in advance are also prohibited, what can we expect in this regard after this World Cup? Will there be freedom for the gathering of large number of people in the streets? Do you think there will be more tolerance of that?

Arkady Dvorkovich: Regarding public gatherings that are not of political nature, they are not prohibited, they are permitted. And this will continue. As to public gatherings with political agendas of various sorts, we have a specially designed procedures for that, and we will keep following these procedures.

Moderator (Moscow): Thank you very much! And now we give the floor to our colleagues in Ekaterinburg. Good afternoon, colleagues.

Moderator (Ekaterinburg): Hello, everyone! Ekaterinburg, the farthest point of the World Cup, greets you. I have a question to Mr. Sorokin and Mr. Dvorkovich. The next World Cup will be hosted by the state of Qatar, and Qatrari representatives were present here in Russia. Will you please tell us what advice you gave them and which information exactly you tried to convey to your colleagues, what they wanted to learn from you, what were they were interested in? Thank you.

Arkady Dvorkovich: First of all, they saw everything with their own eyes, they had full access to everything we were doing. We had a special program, Alexei can tell you about it. But the key thing is that they have in fact been everywhere, seen everything, taken part and adopted their experiences while in Russia. We will keep doing this in the upcoming months.

Alexei Sorokin: Yes, we are indeed in close contact with our Qatari colleagues. There were in total over 80 participants in the Observer program. There was an official part when our employees made presentations, formally shared the knowledge we had acquired in the seven years of preparations. Outside that program we tried to arrange meetings with local authorities, to pass on the direct experience the cities that had been engaged in this World Cup's preparations had acquired so that they could imagine its scale. As my FIFA colleague Colin Smith said, one can make endless presentation but it will suffice to show one photo of a Moscow metro station completely full of yellow due to all the Brazil fans inside to truly get an idea of what the World Cup is.

Thousands of Brazilian fans in a metro station… Of course they are impressed with the scale and they understand the challenges the World Cup carries. It is impossible to understand it in theory, you need to live through this — the preparation and the actual holding of the event. But we tried our best to show them and tell them as much as possible, and we will cooperate with them and moving forward will naturally be open for them. We will be answering all their questions in as much detail as possible. Thank you.

Moderator (Moscow): Thank you very much. Esteemed colleague on the second row, please, your question..

Question: Good afternoon! A question from Germany. How do you think this particular FIFA World Cup will change the image of Russia? Maybe in the last 4-5 weeks something unexpected happened specifically for you? Maybe you have some interesting story about this World Cup?

Arkady Dvorkovich (via interpreter): A simple answer: we will see how this in particular changed the image of Russia. But I think that the image of Russia became closer to what Russia is in fact. Russia is a very good country with very serious ambitions in strengthening and improving the country itself for it to become the best place to live for its people: an open, friendly, safe country ready for cooperation. And now this image corresponds to the reality much more. Time will show this. We hope we will continue to move in this direction and such contests as the FIFA World Cup will allow us to improve our image and change people's attitude toward the Russian Federation.

I believe Alexei will share some interesting stories with us.

Alexei Sorokin (via interpreter): I agree that it will change Russia's image and the perception of Russia abroad. It will show who we are. We showed that we are a hospitable country, where everybody smiles. Initially, we had a slogan "We are ready to discover," to discover new people. In different social networks — Instagram, Facebook — people said they were amazed what Russia is really like, how beautiful it is, what kind of people live here.

But not only the perception of Russia will change: our perception will change as well. We believe that this will be analyzed in the upcoming months but now we already believe that we can play football well, we can organize events on such a huge, global scale at a very good level — so in general we can say that we can.

And as far as interesting stories are concerned. Yes, there is another story which I really liked. A colleague of mine from Ekaterinburg told me about it. A tourist from Peru visited the city, booked accommodation there, from Peru. When he arrived at the place, as per the address, it turned to be an address of the stadium. Supposedly some family lived there, but of course it could not have been true. When they started discussing this, a neighbor came and offered the tourist to stay at his place, so eventually our Peruvian guest stayed with the people he didn't know at all and he stayed with them for three days. He was astonished by such hospitality.

Moderator (Moscow): Now let's give the floor to our colleagues in St. Petersburg. Good afternoon.

Moderator (St. Petersburg): Good afternoon. Greetings from St. Petersburg. I would like to give the floor to our correspondent from Match TV.

Question: Hello. Daniil Yabelov, Match TV. A question to Mr. Sorokin: What do you, as a FIFA member, think about the decision that has just been made public last night that the next World Cup will be held in the winter, in December? And the most interesting aspect of this decision: will this result in Russia changing its summer-autumn championship formula? Thank you.

Alexei Sorokin: Good question. I think, first of all, this decision was announced yesterday once again, but it was actually made quite a long time ago. Second, the decision was approved by everyone, all the leagues that are more or less involved will change their schedule. But this will not result in any radical changes to the league's schedules, and I believe that our league is no exception. Everyone will play as they play now; moreover, it is a time period when we go on a break, so this will not impact us. But, in general, a decision was made to play from late November until the middle of December in Qatar. This decision is slightly different from what was discussed during the application process, when making the decision, but this is an optimal decision with due account of the climate and the average monthly temperatures. This is done for the comfort of players and fans, so we do not expect any major, tectonic shifts.

Moderator (Moscow):Thank you very much! A question from the audience.

Question (via interpreter): Good afternoon. Martin, Brazil Global. At the last World Cup in Brazil we had 12 stadiums, and three of them have not been used since then. Maybe you adopted some of Brazil's experience and the stadiums will not be used after the World Cup.

Arkady Dvorkovich (via interpreter): I will answer this question in part before we start talking about the legacy. In our case, most stadiums have their own teams that play more or less well. They have more or less regular sponsors and support from the local authorities. This combination will provide enough financing for the stadiums.

There are special cases, such as Luzhniki Stadium, which is the largest. The Moscow Government is responsible for it, so, of course, it will support the infrastructure of the largest park complex. This is why this sports infrastructure is one of the best examples.

Fisht Stadium in Sochi is another case: there are plans in place to create a team that will play for the Russian Premiere League, which will help secure support and finance for the stadium. I am told this team has already been registered and it will begin to play next season.

So we don't expect any problems like in Brazil. Thank you.

(In Russian) I have to leave for the airport or I will miss my flight, but Alexei will answer all the questions that may arise, because he has been working for the Organizing Committee for several years, and I only for the last two months. The committee's team is excellent and they won by managing to fulfill all of their responsibilities. I congratulate everyone on this.

Moderator (Moscow): Thank you very much for coming.

Arkady Dvorkovich: Thank you. Thanks for covering the World Cup.

(via interpreter) Thank you for making this World Cup famous all over the world. Thank you very much.

Moderator (Moscow): We will continue with Mr. Sorokin.

Next question, please. Another one from the Moscow audience.

Question (via interpreter): A question from a German news agency. Mr. Sorokin, you have said that there are some questions regarding the World Cup which will be held in Qatar. For example, yesterday Mr. Infantino said that the Qatari government will have to discuss with its neighbors what they will be doing during the 2022 FIFA World Cup. What can you advise your colleagues in Qatar? How can they reach an agreement with FIFA and their neighbors?

And the second question. What will you do after your work and this World Cup are over?

Alexei Sorokin (via interpreter): Well, if you know something I don't… I have a three-year contract, so I will remain here for at least another year, or maybe two, so that will make four years in total. This is my answer to the second question.

As for your first question, it is not my cue to advise anything to Qatar. It is very important to bear in mind that the country has presented itself for the challenge, that it makes plans, because it is also a part of the preparations for some people. And the preparations are not made to increase or decrease the number of teams that will participate. They depend on the number of training bases, flights, and the transportation system. So there are a lot of secondary effects. If a decision is made too quickly, it will have certain consequences. So everything you can see is just the tip of the iceberg, I mean, regarding the preparations. It involves a large amount of hard work done by thousands of people which need to be accepted, and for which we bear responsibility. This decision has not been made yet; it is being discussed. There is still no agreement on this issue. Indeed, we need to listen to Qatar in the first place, what Qatar wants to do on this issue, because they have submitted a bid, and have certainly prepared, and the bid is for 32 teams. The current infrastructure is for exactly 32 teams, so this is a very important decision. And it's not about them discussing it with their neighbors; it is a question of their internal regulation. They need to understand what they want to do in the first place.

Moderator (Moscow): I will give the floor to my colleagues in Kazan now. Kazan, good afternoon!

Moderator (Kazan): Good afternoon and welcome to the Kazan City Press Center. We have a question from Kazanskiye Vedomosti.

Question: Railya Mutygullina, Kazanskiye Vedomosti correspondent. Are we sure that this euphoria of success will not go to our heads? What lessons will the Russian Football Union learn from the World Cup? Will any foreign football coaching practices be adopted? Will we remember our own legends, for example Oleg Blokhin? And will children's football coaches get a pay rise? Thank you!

Alexei Sorokin: A brilliant series of questions, like in an intellectual game show. A brilliant series of questions, but to the wrong team, I would say. I am indeed a member of the RFU executive committee, but, frankly, I have been a little busy lately and therefore had no chance to get into these football questions on the ground, those you are talking about now.

Undoubtedly, the World Cup will give a tremendous boost and have a huge effect on the development of football. This happens after every World Cup in every country that hosts it, and we will not be an exception. I am sure the Russian Football Union experts will be able to take advantage of this cumulative effect, the World Cup's tangible cultural legacy, and the general rise in interest in football. But I am certainly unprepared to answer questions about salaries right now — this has very little to do with me as an organizer of the World Cup. But I am absolutely certain that, first, there is a Legacy program adopted at the governmental level, which will soon be approved by all the Russian authorities and implemented.

And second, we cannot afford to miss out on this huge positive energy that comes from the very fact of hosting the World Cup, this football fever that has completely enveloped us, and the brilliant performance of our team, which made everyone believe in them, believe that we really know how to do this, that we are motivated, that we are geared to success and things like that. We will see how this will be applied in the near future.

Moderator (Moscow): Thank you. We have another question from the audience.

Question (via interpreter): Hello. Tumar Petri. I have a question about Nikolskaya Street, which became kind of a second fan zone in Moscow. I think it was amazing for everyone. Were you surprised, and how did you adapt to the situation, as it had not been planned in advance? What did you have to do to adapt from the security and organization perspective?

Alexei Sorokin (via interpreter): Yes, this street suddenly became a symbol of unity of the fans during this World Cup, but I cannot say that it was absolutely unexpected, because for some reason, Red Square was closed, blocked for several days. We were preparing for the opening concert, and the entrance to Red Square was closed for security reasons, so people chose Nikolskaya. There were no special or extreme security measures. The security forces were evenly distributed across all streets, including pedestrian areas, because crowds usually gather in pedestrian streets. And speaking about the atmosphere: if you were there, you saw what a friendly and cheerful atmosphere there was, so there was no need to take extreme security measures and introduce additional security forces. During the preparation period, we were preparing for various types of fans, but in fact the atmosphere and fans during the World Cup are slightly different from those during the Spartak vs. CSKA or Liverpool vs. Manchester United matches. The atmosphere and people are a bit different. People come from all over the world to enjoy this football tournament, so there were no extreme measures. Everything was very natural.

Moderator (Moscow): Now let us give the floor to our colleagues in Volgograd. Volgograd, good afternoon.

Moderator (Volgograd): Good afternoon, Moscow, Mr. Sorokin, colleagues at other venues. We have a question: Mr. Sorokin, how do you find the World Cup doping test system?

Alexei Sorokin: Yes, doping, our favorite question. In general, the system worked perfectly; there were no difficulties or incidents. We knew from the very beginning, five years ago, that FIFA would administer the system completely. FIFA experts administer all the doping tests in a lab in Lausanne. In total, over 2,000 doping tests were done during the last months of the preparations for the World Cup; I think over 2,700 samples were processed, and, as the FIFA president said yesterday, none of them were positive: all the doping tests were negative. This is the result of the system's work in short.

Moderator (Moscow): Thank you very much. Another question from the audience.

Question: Good afternoon. My name is Marina Fardinova, RBC. Mr. Sorokin, a lot has been said about the main purpose of the World Cup being fulfilled: Russia has improved its image. Does it correlate with the World Cup expenses? What economic impact will it have on the host cities, and what should be done for the World Cup legacy to work? Thank you.

Alexei Sorokin: What a question. A lecture will be needed. We have already spoken a lot about the legacy. We carried out research together with McKinsey and presented it not long before the championship. In general, it is available for the public, and there are quite precise calculations for all kinds of economic impact: the World Cup material and immaterial legacy.

Of course, the impact is mostly from tourism. We hope that this sector will get a real boost after the World Cup. So far, we can see that the majority of our guests want to come here again. They were impressed with what they have seen in Russia and want to visit again. Some of them remained in Russia even after their teams exited the competition just to see more.

Speaking about correlation with expenses, you see, we have many times discussed the fact that the expenses for the preparations of infrastructure were not simply World Cup-oriented. All the facilities would have been built or renovated anyway, the only question was when. It is true that the timing was adjusted a bit, and maybe these facilities were prepared a bit more actively; but we have built nothing that will not be needed to improve our citizens' life. All the small stadiums, 95 in total, are needed for our junior sports schools. All of them will be popular, with clubs playing at all of them. This is sport, so, of course, clubs play with mixed results. When we began, Mordovia was playing in the Premiere League, and now it isn't, and so on. Everything is fluctuating, but this is normal, because this is how sports work.

Speaking about runways, terminals and access roads to airports, all of this would have been renovated anyway, so it cannot be considered part of the World Cup expenses. Of course, this is and will be needed, because it improves our life in all the cities. The same goes for hotels that Russian and foreign tourists can stay in.

I hope our Rostov colleagues will forgive me if I say that… When we started our preparations back in 2011, there was only one four-star hotel in Rostov, not to mention Saransk. Now these cities are completely different: their appearance has changed, they are more popular tourist destinations with different offerings. They have restaurants, hotels, transportation and personnel speaking several languages. This has really changed the tourist appeal of European Russia, as well as the immaterial legacy. There are people who understand the needs of foreign tourists and how to work with them. I can speak about this for a long time, but this is the situation in short.

Moderator (Moscow): Thank you very much. And now a question from Sochi. Good afternoon.

Moderator (Sochi): Good afternoon, Moscow, colleagues in other cities. Good afternoon, Mr. Sorokin. Greetings from the resort capital of Russia.

Special training stadiums that served as camps for national teams have been built in Sochi as well as other cities of the Krasnodar Territory (I am speaking about Krasnodar, Gelendzhik and Anapa). How do you assess the quality of these training stadiums that have been built or renovated for the World Cup?

Alexei Sorokin: Of course I praise it, because we saw the whole process and monitored it carefully; perhaps we sometimes had disagreements with builders, but this is okay. In the end, it is not important how we, the Organizing Committee, find it, but, relatively speaking, the final users of these bases. We had no complaints about the quality of pitches and training camps. On the contrary, we got very positive feedback from all the teams. Everyone thanked us and noted the highest quality of the facilities where the teams stayed. Their praise matters, not ours. We may not see the results clearly after so many years, but it was very nice to hear the teams' feedback and gratitude.

In fact, I thank all the cities for preparing so well. I do not only mean the host cities, because the training camps were located in other cities as well, and there are six other regions where teams were accommodated. Everyone saw to the infrastructure construction as responsibly as possible.

Of course, we should also note the work of the coordination council under the Russian government headed by Vitaly Mutko. We could not have done this without him. In fact, the government led and oversaw all this work.

Moderator (Moscow): Thank you very much. A question from the Moscow audience.

Question: Good afternoon, Mr. Sorokin. Sergei Adoyevtsev, the Russian Union of Journalists. We have built excellent stadiums, and 80 percent of them have fine teams such as Mordovia or Krylya Sovetov… And Ekaterinburg, Nizhny Novgorod, and Baltika in Kaliningrad, whose level is a bit lower. Do you think they need help to enter the Premiere League? Thank you.

Alexei Sorokin: I am sorry, but FC Ural Ekaterinburg plays in the Premiere League. But I think I will agree about the other teams. This is a job for our football authorities and maybe regional authorities in part: to take full advantage of the facilities and interest in football to improve the quality of the sport amid common enthusiasm. It cannot be contrived but must come from the heart. This is interconnected: the better team plays, the more people come to see it and the better its economy becomes. This is a system that must provide for itself, which is very difficult to do artificially. Of course, new facilities attract up to 40 percent new fans. This is a global statistic. A new stadium adds 40 percent in all countries. But the next thing is to manage the club and to make the best use of all the benefits the club will reap due to the new infrastructure. I mean to commercialize the capacities of the new stadium as much as possible. Sales on match days account for almost one-third of any club, and I do not mean tickets only, but also merchandise, food, drinks and so on. This is the task of the football clubs and their managers: to use what was built for the World Cup as efficiently as possible.

Moderator (Moscow): Thank you very much. Let us give the floor to our colleagues in Saransk. Saransk, good afternoon.

Moderator (Saransk): Good afternoon. As always, Saransk sends greetings to all the host cities, and, of course, Moscow. It's a shame that the World Cup is ending, which means a part of our work is ending, too. My colleague Olga Dadykina has a question.

Question: Olga Dadykina, Rossiya Segodnya. Mr. Sorokin, would you single out any host cities' preparations and organization? Small cities perhaps.

Alexei Sorokin: You have prompted my answer: Saransk. But, speaking seriously, we cannot and would not single out any city. I believe all the host cities have done a great job. The success of any event can be judged by the weakest link. I think we had no such weak link: everyone was equally motivated to work responsibly before and during the World Cup. Maybe it was easier for some cities due to their size, and others had to put a little more effort into it. Sometimes a city's small size does not make it harder but, on the contrary, offers certain organizational advantages. So, it would be very difficult to single one out, and we would never do that. I believe every one was brilliant. I thank all the cities very much. In fact, you had a great responsibility, because it is not the center or the FIFA headquarters who organize the World Cup, but you, the host cities. You welcome guests and see to it that they find their way from the airport; you are responsible for making them feel good in the city and for taxi drivers speaking at least some English among other things. And, of course, the efforts made by each city go far beyond all our recommendations. This is unprecedented and deserves praise.

Moderator (Moscow): Thank you very much. Let us give the floor to Kaliningrad. Kaliningrad, good afternoon.

Moderator (Kaliningrad): Good afternoon, Svetlana, colleagues. Mr. Sorokin, good afternoon. Thank you for finding time for today's videoconference. We will continue with questions about the cities, but they will be slightly different. We will not ask you to single out any city, but do you think in retrospect that any host city was missing and should have been added to the list? And the second question, if you do not mind. During the World Cup, football has become a large celebration for everyone and, of course, all Russians have learned more about it. How can we keep alive this spark? Thank you.

Alexei Sorokin: Any special city missing? It's hard to tell now. In my opinion, the ratio of the number of teams, the number and schedule of matches — and the number of stadiums was ideal; an optimal number of cities. This schedule included enough days of rest for each pitch, each stadium and each city's organizing team. More cities, probably, would have been more difficult to handle: each new city adds work, adds flights, adds difficulties in the preparation. Fewer cities would automatically increase the pressure, because each deadline was set from the very beginning. I would say the load was distributed fairly enough: a stadium in each region, while Moscow, naturally, as a very big city, had two stadiums that coped well. I would not have added anything.

As for the spark… I already said this: it's all in our hands, in the hands of the Russian Football Union, in the hands of the clubs that are in your cities, in the hands of local football federations — how to manage the energy that the World Cup has given us and use it to the maximum. These things are not done with directives; they can only happen in a natural way. We must have our own motivation, which the World Cup can only boost, but we will have to act ourselves.

Moderator (Moscow): Thank you very much. Unfortunately, our time is up. Mr. Sorokin, thank you for visiting us.