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FIFA Boss to Encourage Co-hosting for 2026 World Cup, not Worried about Russia Hooligans | ASHARQ AL-AWSAT English Archive 2005 -2017
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In this Friday, Feb. 26, 2016 file photo, newly elected FIFA president Gianni Infantino of Switzerland reacts during the extraordinary FIFA congress in Zurich, Germany. (AP Photo/Michael Probst, File)

FIFA President Gianni Infantino said Thursday he did not fear hooligan troubles at the World Cup in Russia next year, adding he intends to encourage co-hosting for the 2026 tournament that could bring together three or four countries with four or five stadiums each.

“I am not concerned about trouble in 2018, I have full confidence in the Russian authorities,” Infantino told a small group of reporters on the sidelines of a meeting in Qatar, which will be hosting the 2022 tournament.

The comments came ahead of the broadcast of a television documentary in Britain on Thursday in which Russian hardline fans are said to threaten trouble against English fans who go to the World Cup.

Russian and English fans clashed at the Euro 2016 tournament in France and several Russians were expelled.

The FIFA chief denied he has asked Russia’s Deputy Prime Minister Vitaly Mutko to resign as head of the Russian World Cup committee.

He said “no” when asked about the issue. Infantino made no other comment on the case.

Mutko has faced questions about his role as chief World Cup organizer after being linked to doping by Russian athletes.

But he has denied any link to the scandal which a report by a World Anti-Doping Agency investigator said was “state sponsored”.

During his meeting with the reporters in Doha, Infantino said: “We will encourage co-hosting for the World Cup because we need FIFA to show we are reasonable and we have to think about sustainability long-term.”

“It is perfectly in line with our sustainability and legacy to maybe bring together two, three, four countries who can jointly present a project with three, four, five stadiums each. We will certainly encourage it. Ideally the countries will be close to each other for the sake of ease of travel,” he added.

The idea has taken off at the European Championship, with Belgium and the Netherlands co-hosting in 2000, Austria and Switzerland in 2008 and Poland and Ukraine in 2012. The next tournament in 2020 has been designated as Pan-European and is due to be staged in 13 cities in 13 counties.