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Russian government shielded doping players - ex-lab director Rodchenkov

FIFA president Gianni Infantino speaks to ESPN FC's Gab Marcotti about his hopes of the 2018 and 2022 World Cups being able to change any negative perceptions of both Russia and Qatar.

Russian football players were protected from being caught doping under direct government orders that laboratory director Grigory Rodchenkov said he followed to ensure cheating was covered up.

Outlining his involvement in football for the first time to The Associated Press, Rodchenkov claimed an instruction to "avoid any scandal" came from Vitaly Mutko, the former Russian sports minister who now serves as a deputy prime minister despite being implicated in a far-reaching doping controversy.

"Russian...

Russia defender Ruslan Kambolov in doping investigation - Vitaly Mutko

Ruslan Kambolov in action for Rubin Kazan.
A Russia player is under investigation by FIFA for doping, according to the Russian government.

Russian deputy prime minister Vitaly Mutko, overseeing the government's World Cup preparations, told state news agency Tass he had been informed that FIFA is investigating Rubin Kazan defender Ruslan Kambolov.

Kambolov has played twice for Russia, once in 2015 and once in a friendly against Chile last June. Mutko said the case was "not linked to the national team."

There is also a FIFA investigation into...

Russian official dismisses locust threat at World Cup this summer

ESPN FC's Craig Burley does not feel Russia will emerge from Group A that also contains Saudi Arabia, Egypt or Uruguay.

MOSCOW -- The head of the World Cup organising committee has dismissed claims that a plague of locusts could threaten the upcoming tournament in Russia.

Alexei Sorokin was responding to a warning from the agriculture ministry that locusts could devour the grass at stadiums in southern Russian cities.

Sorokin says "locusts present no danger to football fields." He explained that "the grass on the pitch is very short and it's sprayed with certain substances."

Sorokin also added: "We are trying to...

Brazil to play Russia in friendly in Moscow

Luzhniki Stadium, World Cup 2018 venue
Russia will host Brazil at the Luzhniki Stadium in March.

Brazil will play Russia in a friendly in March at the stadium that will host the World Cup final.

The Brazilian football federation said on Tuesday the friendly at the Luzhniki stadium in Moscow will be on March 23.

Brazil will face Germany four days later in their last friendly before coach Tite announces his final squad for the World Cup in June.

If Tite's team finishes top of their group, they will only play at the Luzhniki if they reach the final.

In November, the stadium was reopened with Argentina...