England football fans heading to Russia for the World Cup will be safe and enjoy visa-free travel as guests of the country, Moscow’s ambassador to London has said.
Alexander Yakovenko said Russia expects between 20,000 and 30,000 people from the UK to journey there for the spectacle this summer.
Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson has expressed concerns about the treatment travelling England fans may receive amid worsening relations between the UK and Russia as the Salisbury spy poisoning probe continues. He said: “I will be happy to invite all the fans. They will be safe in Russia.
“All the necessary measures are being taken and the British special authorities are in contact with Russia’s special authorities to provide the security.”
Mr Yakovenko added that there would be a “visa-free regime for those who are going to come to Moscow” and said those with tickets will be “guests of Russia”. Fans will be treated to “new facilities” and “fascinating hotels” during their stay, he said, adding that the event will advertise the “Russian standards of living” in what he described as a fast-growing country.
On whether Russia deserves to host the World Cup, Mr Yakovenko said it had been the decision of the “world community” to award it to his country, adding: “So this is the way the world community thinks about Russia, not just Britain but the world community, which is much bigger than one country.”