MOSCOW— As the FIFA Confederations Cup 2017 draws near, famous football pundit Stan Collymore predicts that the tournament will be known for the “love of the sports” and “the love of the game,” dismissing the idea that hooliganism will impact this major event.
Russia will host the FIFA Confederations Cup football tournament for the first time this year as a prelude to next year’s FIFA World Cup. Four Russian cities will serve as venues of the event that will take place from June 17 to July 2.
Radio Sputnik discussed the upcoming event with former English football player, leading pundit and RT’s special host for FIFA Confederations Cup 2017 coverage – Stan Collymore. According to Collymore the importance of this event cannot be overstated.
“For the players, for the coaches, for the managers this is the tournament of champions – for every single one of the eight nations. So it’s is very much a tournament for players to familiarize themselves with their surroundings and start a long slog as a footballer one year out for the biggest show on Earth which is the FIFA World Cup,” Collymore said.
He also dismissed concerns raised by certain media outlets about Russian football hooliganism allegedly posing a serious threat to foreign tourists and sports fans attending the Confederations Cup and the 2018 FIFA World Cup.
“Of course it (football hooliganism) is a problem. Is it a big enough problem for people to be scared of coming to Russia? Absolutely not!” he exclaimed.
According to Collymore, the “Russian football hooligan problem” was likely borne out “English football problem 30-40 years ago,” as Russian football hooligan groups now seek to mimic “certain ultras, groups and crews” from Italy, Spain and the UK.
“But I certainly wouldn’t see it in a country of 144 million people being a major problem when the world’s greatest football event comes around next year, because I believe the security services and genuine football fans will make sure it’ll be known for the love of the sport, the love of the game, the love of communicating with each other – which is what World Cups and Olympics are about – rather than a very overly-highlighted minority in certain countries,” Collymore surmised.
Collymore also added that he considers Chile and Portugal to be the favorites of the upcoming tournament, adding however that the German team also looks quite promising.