- Associated Press - Wednesday, October 8, 2014

LONDON (AP) - FIFA vice president Jeffrey Webb warned Wednesday that eradicating racism from Russian football ahead of the 2018 World Cup will be a major challenge.

The latest episode of fans’ racism has led to CSKA Moscow being ordered to play its next three UEFA competition matches in an empty stadium, following several incidents in domestic games where players have been abused.

“There are huge challenges with Russia,” Webb, who heads FIFA’s anti-racism task force, said Wednesday. “It must start with education and really it must come from the top down that diversity is good, that integration is good and there’s nothing to fear.”

Webb also dismissed calls to get the Women’s World Cup in Canada to be played on grass instead of artificial turf, following legal action from players.

“Artificial pitches are the future,” said Webb, who heads the CONCACAF confederation that covers Canada. “They have been well regarded. If you have the best artificial pitches in the world I think that’s much better than having bad grass.”

Webb was speaking at the Leaders’ Sport Business Summit in London. Here are other headlines from the gathering at Chelsea’s Stamford Bridge stadium:

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QATAR WORLD CUP: European clubs are pushing for compensation if the 2022 World Cup is moved to winter from its traditional summer dates. FIFA and Qatar organizers are currently discussing shifting the dates, even as the Gulf nation maintains it can stage the event at any time in the year. The 200-member European Club Association wants its voice to be heard in the consultation talks.

“We are ready to discuss changing the date under one condition - that there is no damage for club football because if we change from summer to November or January it will affect our business,” said ECA chairman Karl-Heinz Rummenigge, who also heads up Bayern Munich. “That cost cannot be paid by the clubs. We are not ready to pay it and it has to be made clear to FIFA that they need the goodwill of the clubs or we are not ready to talk or discuss it. The fact is 76 percent of all players in the last two World Cups were contracted by European clubs.”

The ECA believes the IOC should be willing to move the 2022 Winter Olympics to accommodate a change of World Cup dates from the traditional June-July slot. Beijing and Almaty are the two remaining 2022 bidders.

“The World Cup is one of the major events in the sports landscape (along) with the Summer Olympics,” ECA vice chairman Umberto Gandini. “But the Winter Olympics are not up there … don’t tell me it’s not possible to move the Winter Olympics a bit, especially with it still in the bid process.”

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PREMIER LEAGUE OVERSEAS: After it emerged there remains interest in taking Premier League games overseas, the Bundesliga ruled out such a move.

“I think it’s a creative idea, I’m not sure it would work with FIFA,” Bundesliga chief executive Christian Seifert told the conference. “We have a completely different approach about our idea of German football. For the financial side it would be maybe a good idea to play a match day all over the world, but (not) for the supporters.”

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Rob Harris can be followed at www.twitter.com/RobHarris

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