• WC 2018: Morocco and Wolves midfielder Romain Saiss dismisses World Cup racism worries

    By Press Association

    Morocco midfielder Romain Saiss has dismissed fears the World Cup will be marred by racism.

    The Wolves star is hopeful next year’s tournament in Russia can avoid major problems despite concerns.

    Saiss helped Morocco qualify for their first World Cup in 20 years with the country waiting to discover their opponents in Friday’s draw.

    FIFA president Gianni Infantino said racism has been made a “high priority” and referees will be given the power to abandon games if necessary but Saiss remains unfazed.

    He told Press Association Sport: “I’m not especially worried, I know before it was difficult but today racism doesn’t have a place in football or the world.

    “You can’t have racism at the World Cup because you have a lot of countries from Europe, Africa and South America.

    “I hope we won’t have any problems because it’s the best competition in the world. We have to show the good examples to the rest of the world.”

    Saiss was at the centre of a storm last season when Newcastle’s Jonjo Shelvey was given a five-game ban and a £100,000 fine after being found guilty of using racially-aggravated language towards the Moroccan.

    Shelvey denied the charge and Saiss admitted he found the incident tough to deal with.

    “Last season I had this problem with racism and it’s difficult for everyone when some people try to do something about your religion or origin,” he said.

    “Football is just a game, you have to play, enjoy and it’s just a pleasure. Nobody is perfect but when we play and you hear something about your origin we have to kick it out.”

    Saiss was eight-years-old when Morocco last played at the World Cup in 1998 and now 27 he is eager to make history, with his country having only qualified from the group stage once, in 1986, in four appearances.

    “Yes, we’d like to pass out of the group. I’d prefer if we lost it’s against a big team than one who’s similar to us. When we go it’s to play against the best in the world,” he said.

    “Everyone in Morocco was crazy with the qualification. It’s maybe better to play against a good side like France or England as it helps you focus. In qualification we had a hard group and finished first.”

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