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MOSCOW: The football World Cup has helped ‘destroy stereotypes’ about Russia and will boost foreign tourism by 15 percent as fans head home and spread the word that they had a great time, said Deputy Prime Minister Olga Golodets.

The month-long tournament, which ends with the final between France and Croatia on Sunday at the Luzhniki Stadium in the capital, has so far been without major security incidents.

Concerns about racism and hooligan violence that were raised in the run-up have not been borne out.

“We expect a serious increase in the international influx [of tourists],” Golodets, who was appointed to oversee sport and culture in May, said.

“We hope that this influx will increase next year by no less than 15 percent, thanks to the policy of openness and the recognition of Russia that occurred during the World Cup.”

Russia has hosted more than 700,000 foreign football fans during the tournament, spread over 11 cities including Moscow, St Petersburg and Sochi.

“We’re very pleased about how people have responded to the atmosphere,” Golodets said.

“It seems to me that the World Cup has allowed us to destroy stereotypes that existed in the world.”

Published in Dawn, July 13th, 2018