Russia 2018 will be the best World Cup in history, according to the nation’s former striker Roman Pavlyuchenko.
The showpiece tournament is just over eight months away, with 15 nations having already qualified for the 32-team event.
But there remain fears the World Cup, which begins on June 14, could be marred by racism, hooliganism and homophobia.
However, Pavlyuchenko — the former Tottenham striker who represented Russia 51 times — believes his homeland will deliver an outstanding tournament.
“I’m absolutely sure that fans will like it and I’m sure that it will be the best World Cup in the history of the World Cup. All the fans will come here and enjoy it, I’m absolutely sure,” he told the Mirror .
“There is a misconception that going to Russia will see lots of people getting hurt, punched and attacked. Anyone who comes here can see that it’s not like that. I’m sure everything will be fine in that respect.
“There are security worries wherever you go in the world but I am sure that the organisation here will be excellent and will make it very safe for the fans.”
He added: “I think people who come here for the World Cup will stay here because they will never want to leave. It will be a World Cup to remember.”
The 15 teams to have qualified for the World Cup so far are Russia, Brazil, Iran, Japan, Mexico, Belgium, South Korea, Saudi Arabia, Germany, England, Spain, Nigeria, Costa Rica, Poland and Egypt.