Russia: 2018 World Cup will top Brazil
Russia is confident of hosting an even better World Cup than the latest thrilling instalment in Brazil. FIFA president Sepp Blatter officially brought Brazil 2014 to a close on Monday with his final media address in the Maracana.
Blatter said that despite initial fears over stadiums, security and transport, Brazil had put on an "exceptional" World Cup that merited a score of 9.25 out of 10 from the head of world football.
Blatter said Brazil had "raised the bar" for Russia, but the chair of the Local Organising Committee (LOC) for the next tournament is sure his country will deliver.
Alexey Sorokin has been in Brazil to pick up a few pointers about how to run the tournament. He has been impressed with how the Brazilians organised the World Cup, but he wants to do even better four years from now.
"Do we look like we are fearful? There is no fear from us," Sorokin said when he asked if he was worried about following Brazil. "We benefited from this experience of being here. We noted good things that happened here."
"It was an incredible atmosphere here, a great operation of transport, and support for the teams," said Sorokin. "We will do our very best to not only match it but to supersede it."
Two stadiums are ready for the World Cup now. One more is due to be complete in September and a fourth at the start of 2016. The remaining eight venues will be ready in 2017, Sorokin said.
Russia has a bad record when it comes to combating racism in football, but Sorokin says the LOC will do everything to ensure a trouble-free competition.
"We already have programmes in the Russian Football Union and the LOC to offset this threat," Sorokin added. "We will publish promotional materials, making very firm statements."
Sorokin did not rule out banning those known of wrongdoing from attending games during the 2018 World Cup.
In terms of excitement, few World Cups can compete with Brazil, though. There were 171 goals -- a record only matched by France '98 -- and there were plenty of shocks too.
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Costa Rica's run to the quarterfinals was a genuine good news story, Colombia also surprised a few by reaching the same stage while Algeria, Switzerland and Mexico also won many admirers. But the biggest shocks came between the heavyweights of world football.
Germany's 7-1 annihilation of Brazil will go down as one of the biggest shocks in World Cup history. But for Blatter, the highlight was Holland's stunning 5-1 victory over 2010 champions Spain.
"When I saw that match, especially in the second-half, then I felt this was going to be something special," he said. "This World Cup was exceptional and the bar has been set very high for Russia to match the same quality."