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World Cup saw 170 pitch invasion attempts, according to organisers

Croatia captain and Real Madrid star Luka Modric has been named the Best FIFA Men's Player in 2018 after winning the Golden Ball award at the World Cup.
After leading France to World Cup glory in Russia, Didier Deschamps has been named the Best FIFA Men's Coach for 2018.

The head of the 2018 World Cup organising committee has said security stopped 170 people from running onto pitches during the tournament.

Four members of the Pussy Riot protest group notably managed to reach the pitch during the World Cup final.

Organising committee CEO Alexei Sorokin spoke publicly on Tuesday about the huge number of potential security breaches for the first time.

"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 cooperation and police effort to ensure security," Sorokin said at a conference in Madrid. "There were no complaints about security whatsoever.

"People felt safe. Security was comfortable enough up to the point where it was safe and comfortable. There was a right balance."

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 their pitch invasion in the World Cup final.

Local organisers are responsible for stadium security at World Cups, though those in Russia made no mention of the thwarted field invasions during the tournament.

FIFA did not immediately respond to a request for comment, while the local organising committee declined to comment.

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

Sorokin 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 by the hosts.

"Fan ID was probably the biggest effort that we undertook," Sorokin 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."

Sorokin said the World Cup was a boost for Russia and its football community.

"There were some 200,000 jobs created every year in the preparation period," he said. "There was a huge number of tourists who came during this period, that's unprecedented, more than 1 million tourists. I don't think our country has ever taken that in a short time frame."

In domestic football, Sorokin said attendance numbers doubled after the World Cup compared with the 2015-16 season.


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