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Vladimir Putin says security at the 2018 World Cup won’t be ‘intrusive’

Russian President Vladimir Putin, third left, and FIFA President Sepp Blatter, fourth left, listen to Moscow Mayor Sergei Sobyanin, second left, as they stand at a model of the Luzhniki Stadium after reconstruction, in Moscow, Russia, Tuesday, Oct. 28, 2014.

Mikhail Klimentyev/AP

Security at the 2018 World Cup "must be effective but not intrusive," Russian President Vladimir Putin said Tuesday.

Russian security was tight at the Sochi Olympics this year, though it was not immediately clear whether Putin's comments would signal a different approach for the soccer tournament.

"I emphasize that security measures must be effective but not intrusive or extraneous, and not creating discomfort for sportsmen or for fans," said Putin, met with FIFA president Sepp Blatter on Tuesday.

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Security concerns for the World Cup will likely centre on possible terrorist attacks by insurgents from Russia's North Caucasus, and perhaps incidents linked to the Ukraine crisis.

Russian Sports Minister Vitaly Mutko said Putin would sign off on a final security plan early next year.

Putin cited the Olympics as a major influence in preparing for the World Cup, Russia's first major soccer tournament.

Drawing on that experience, all World Cup preparations will be completed "on schedule" and "to the very highest standards," Putin said.

He also warned Russia's struggling national football team, which has won only one of its last seven competitive matches and was eliminated in the first round at the World Cup, that its performance must be "better than we saw in Brazil."

However, there was a warning from Mutko, who said the country was in danger of falling behind schedule on plans to expand the number of hotels needed for fans.

Most of Russia's 11 host cities have never before hosted major international events and would currently struggle to accommodate thousands of football supporters. Russia plans to build 64 new hotels to compensate.

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"In most of the host cities there is still a serious deficit of accommodation," Mutko said. "This issue is moving at a slow pace as yet and we need to pay attention to it."

Earlier, Blatter repeated his opposition to any boycott of the World Cup in Russia, saying that it would be ineffective and inappropriate at a sporting event.

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