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Russian deputy PM rebuffs allegations in US senators’ letter to FIFA chief

August 03, 2017, 16:16 UTC+3 MOSCOW

Russia is now in full-swing preparations to host the 2018 FIFA World Cup

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Russian Deputy Prime Minister Vitaly Mutko

Russian Deputy Prime Minister Vitaly Mutko

© Vitaliy Nevar/TASS

MOSCOW, August 3. /TASS/. Workers from North Korea are not involved in Russia’s construction of facilities for the 2018 FIFA World Cup and there are no violations of labor rights, Russian Deputy Prime Minister Vitaly Mutko told TASS on Thursday commenting on a letter of US senators to FIFA.

A group of eight US Senators wrote a letter to FIFA President Gianni Infantino urging that the world’s football governing body open an investigation into Russia’s alleged exploitation of North Korean workforce at a construction site of a stadium for the 2018 FIFA World Cup in Russia.

"FIFA hired an independent monitoring organization," Mutko, who is also the president of the Russian Football Union (RFU), said in an interview with TASS. "There are no violations (at the construction sites), it is high time to get over this issue as they (North Korean workers) are not employed at the World Cup facilities construction in Russia. I hope that FIFA will be able to explain this to the senators."

British daily The Guardian reported in May that numerous alleged violations took place in regards to workers during the construction of the football stadium in Russia’s second largest city of Saint Petersburg. According to the daily, heads of the football federations of Sweden, Denmark, Norway and Iceland expressed their concern with labor conditions of North Korean workers at the construction site.

"We are in contact with FIFA each week, holding telephone conferences and discuss all issues that arise," Mutko said. "There are no issues whatsoever with FIFA regarding the use of labor force at the construction sites. I am telling you this as the chairman of the Local Organizing Committee."

"If questions do arise we are always ready to discuss them," the RFU chief stated. "We are monitoring everything including the blogosphere. I personally read blogs, no matter what part of the country of city they come from."

Following Western media reports in May on the alleged exploitation of North Korean workforce and violations of labor rights in Russia, FIFA officially stated that the world’s governing body of football and "the Russian Local Organizing Committee (LOC) have put in place a dedicated decent work monitoring system to protect workers’ rights at the stadium construction sites for the upcoming tournaments in Russia."

Mutko said at that time that Western media willfully launched a negative media blitz to smear Russia’s preparations for the world’s two major football tournaments, which are the 2017 FIFA Confederations Cup and the 2018 FIFA World Cup.

After successfully hosting the FIFA Confederations Cup earlier this summer, Russia is now in full-swing preparations to host the 2018 FIFA World Cup.

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