Security stopped 170 pitch invaders at World Cup, claim…

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The head of the Russian World Cup organising committee has claimed security staff stopped 170 people running on to pitches during the tournament.

Organising committee chief executive Alexei Sorokin has spoken publicly about the huge number of potential breaches for the first time, two months after the final was disrupted by four members of the Pussy Riot protest group running on to the field.

“Of course, you may repel what I’m saying (about security) by the fact there were a few pitch runners at the final, but I can tell you that in total 170 runners were stopped before that, so it’s quite a good record of police co-operation and police effort to ensure security,” Mr Sorokin said at a conference in Madrid.

“There were no complaints about security whatsoever,” he said. “People felt safe. Security was comfortable enough up to the point where it was safe and comfortable. There was a right balance.”

Mr Sorokin did not talk about Pussy Riot member Pyotr Verzilov, who is ill and claims he was poisoned.

He and the three other members of the group served 15-day jail sentences for running on to the field during the match between France and Croatia on July 15.

Local organisers are responsible for stadium security at World Cups. In Russia, the organisers made no mention of the thwarted pitch invasions during the 64-game tournament.

Russian law enforcement strived to present a tolerant image during the World Cup, but police have already shown less tolerance against protesters since the tournament ended.

Mr Sorokin also said attendance numbers at the World Cup were one of the good “surprises” for organisers, and called the implementation of Fan IDs one of the most successful achievements.

“Fan ID was probably the biggest effort that we undertook,” he said. “It proved a very nice combination of a security tool and a privilege for fans, an interesting incentive for fans.

“With Fan ID you could enter the country without a visa and in some countries it saved us because we would never be able to issue so many visas. There was a huge flow of fans within a very short period of time.”

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