MOSCOW, May 25. /TASS/. Russia is again being subjected to a Western media blitz aimed at sullying the country’s organization of the world’s two major football events, which are the 2017 FIFA Confederations Cup and the 2018 FIFA World Cup, Russian Foreign Ministry Spokeswoman Maria Zakharova said on Thursday.
"The story repeats itself and we see a media blitz just like before the Olympics in Sochi," she noted. "We will see in particular variations of these scenarios such as the unpreparedness of sports facilities and the organizers’ unfriendliness and unprofessionalism. The issue of human rights will be under a magnifying glass just like in Sochi. These are the carbon-copy developments."
In February and March of 2014, the Russian resort city of Sochi hosted the Winter Olympic and Paralympic Games, which, according to international sports officials, athletes and visitors, were organized at the highest level possible and provided up-to-date infrastructure at all levels.
According to Zakharova, "the most acute alarm was voiced by the Norwegian Football Union, which on May 16 sent a letter to the International football federation (FIFA), requesting to launch an investigation into the use of migrant labor during the construction of the St. Petersburg Arena under near-slave labor conditions, having no documents and working for peanuts and so on."
"This issue is a tool of political pressure and blackmail and in this case this is a media smear campaign," the diplomat stressed.
Moreover, Zakharova said, "the campaign to sow fear among football fans, who intend to come to Russia for the 2018 World Cup is gaining momentum."
"This is not the first sports event organized by Russia and we are not pioneers here," she stated. "We are organizers of sports events just like any other country."
"We call on everyone not to react to such fake news. Russia has certain agencies to safeguard the rights of the hired workforce," according to Zakharova.
The Russian diplomat advised some countries to mind their own treatment of migrants on their territories and to study the history and map of Russia before churning out awkward news stories.
"On our behalf, we are ready to organize briefing on all facilities for the 2018 World Cup," she said. "Anything you want, but avoid writing nonsense."