FIFA President Gianni Infantino plays down Russian hooligan violence fears at 2018 World Cup

FIFA President Gianni Infantino plays down Russian hooligan violence fears at 2018 World Cup

FIFA President Gianni Infantino plays down Russian hooligan violence fears at 2018 World Cup

Updated 17 February 2017, 7:20 AEDT

Gianni Infantino says he is not concerned about trouble and violence at the 2018 World Cup despite the recent poor record of Russian hooligans.

FIFA President Gianni Infantino has played down concerns about possible violence at the 2018 World Cup in Russia despite several flashpoints involving their supporters at the 2016 European Championship in France.

"I'm not concerned about trouble and violence in 2018. I have full confidence in Russian authorities, they are taking this matter very, very seriously," he said in Doha on Friday (AEDT).

More than 100 England fans were injured following clashes with Russian supporters in Marseille before their group game at Euro 2016, causing UEFA to threaten the team with expulsion from the tournament.

There have been fears of more trouble at next year's tournament. But Infantino said the organisers were already putting plans in place to curb any hooliganism.

"They have been in contact with UEFA and French organisers to learn the lessons from France and this matter is being taken in the utmost seriousness by all," he said.

"As part of this, the Russian government has put in place an ID system which will help us when it comes to any potential trouble.

"We need to be wary about spreading rumours about hooligans."

He was speaking ahead of a BBC documentary due to air on Friday, which claims to have spoken to some of the Russian hooligans involved in the 2016 trouble.

Infantino also reaffirmed that he hoped to use video referees at the tournament.

"The proposal on the table is about using video technology to help referees. I'm really hopeful that for the World Cup in 2018 we can have a video system to help the referee take the right decisions," he said.

The new assistant referee technology was tried out at the 2016 Club World Cup in Japan.

But Infantino played down suggestions that FIFA was about to scrap the offside rule, following controversial remarks by its technical director Marco van Basten.

"We discuss and debate everything, the offside rule, sin bins as punishments, additional substitutions, but these are discussions that are still far, far, far away from any concrete proposals," he said.

FIFA to encourage co-hosting by up to four countries for 2026 World Cup

The 2026 soccer World Cup could be split between up to four countries, Infantino said, announcing the organisation would encourage applications to co-host the tournament.

"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," Infantino said.

"(We could) ...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."

His remarks could open the way to a joint bid from the United States, Canada and Mexico, which have already said they intend to hold discussions over the possibility.

At the end of last year Victor Montagliani, president of the CONCACAF federation that the three countries belong to, said he expected formal discussions to start once "all the rules and regulations" related to the bid were announced.

Concern has been raised about the financial burden placed on a single tournament host, and the bad publicity generated by stadiums built and then abandoned after use.

Reuters