The mounting rumors of threats to foreign fans in Russia are grossly exaggerated, Jose Mourinho told RT, citing his own experience with the hosts of 2018 FIFA World Cup. The Manchester United coach also made predictions for teams including Russia.
Mourinho, who is looking forward to being in Moscow next year for the start of Russia 2018, was speaking to RT on Friday in the aftermath of the exciting World Cup draw.
READ MORE: World Cup Draw: RT's Peter Schmeichel & Stan Collymore talk results and drama
“I have been in Russia so many times and I have never had a problem, my teams have never had any problems, just the cold!” Mourinho said jokingly when asked about media reports of Russian football hooligans allegedly hell-bent on attacking overseas fans.
Saying that fans love welcoming foreign guests and look forward to seeing their footballing idols, Mourinho said that the hosts in general take pride in showing their country in a good light. He added that he expects organizers to create security conditions to make the cup an “amazing social event.”
As for the cold, those taken aback by the heavy Moscow snowfall on the day of the draw should know that “in the summer this will not be a problem,” according to Mourinho.
Predictions for the hosts
The hosts, meanwhile, should expect fierce competition, Mourinho believes. Commenting on Team Russia’s rivals in Group A, which were determined on Friday as Saudi Arabia, Egypt and Uruguay, he said: “I think Russia has to look to Egypt with respect,” adding that Uruguay “is a hard opponent with good players and an experienced manager and great competitive mentality.”
The “competitive” nature of the group makes every match crucial, the Manchester United manager said, adding that “the first match [between Russia and Saudi Arabia] is the one I would love to be in Moscow for.” Saudi Arabia might lack experience to qualify to quarters, but Egypt can still make it as its team has “some fast [and] creative players,” Mourinho noted.
Russia will kick off the much-anticipated tournament against the Saudis at Moscow’s Luzhniki Stadium on June 14, 2018.
Speaking of the Cup’s favorites, Mourinho offered some hints at which teams may claim most of the victories. Portugal, “a good team with experience,” is the European champion and “that says it all,” Mourinho stated. It might be worth adding that Mourinho is Portuguese himself, of course.
England, where he leads the all-star Manchester United, “is the country with the best league in the world, the most competitive, where players learn how to compete at the highest level of expectation.”
Europeans and South Americans, including Brazil and Argentina, Spain and Germany, as well as France “are the favorites” in general as they make use of “quality, experience and tradition,” Mourinho says.