FIFA wants social change in Russia despite 'anti-gay' comments by 2018 chief
August 13, 2013 -- Updated 2053 GMT (0453 HKT)
Russia 2018 World Cup chief Alexey Sorokin has weighed into the argument over new 'anti-gay' laws in his country.
- FIFA wants clarification on adoption of new 'anti-gay' laws in Russia
- 2018 World Cup CEO defends new legislation
- FIFA wants 2018 to 'unite people and have a positive social impact'
- Campaigners have demanded boycotts of Olympics and World Cup
(CNN) -- Soccer's world governing body expects the 2018 World Cup to be a catalyst for social change in Russia, despite apparently anti-gay statements by the head of the organizing committee.
But FIFA told CNN Tuesday that it was seeking clarification on the adoption of new laws in Russia which "prohibit propaganda on non-traditional sexual relations" around minors.
The legislation also bans symbols symbols such as rainbow flags and has led to calls for the 2014 Sochi Winter Olympics and the 2018 World Cup to be boycotted.
Alexey Sorokin, CEO of the latter competition, defended the new laws, saying they had been misinterpreted.
Read: Obama: 'no patience' for anti-gay laws in Russia
"It is designed against active propaganda of homosexuality, not against homosexuality itself. That is a big difference," he was quoted in an article by World Football Insider.
Obama: 'Nobody is more offended than me'
Louganis discusses Russia anti-gay laws
Olympians jeer Russia's anti-gay law
"Would you like a World Cup where naked people are running around displaying their homosexuality? The answer to that is quite obvious."
"The Olympics and World Cup are not a stage for various views -- not for Nazis, not for any other ways of life. It should be about football and nothing else."
Read: Sochi Games now a battleground for gay rights
FIFA said that its statutes had "zero tolerance against discrimination based, among other, on sexual orientation" and trusted that the 2018 hosts would deliver on their promise to provide all visitors and fans with a warm welcome.
"FIFA is firmly convinced that the staging of the World Cup can contribute to uniting people and having a positive social impact," it added.
The International Olympic Committee (IOC), under pressure to act ahead of next year's Winter Games, has publicly opposed any moves to stage boycotts, but told CNN it is keeping a watching brief on developments in Russia.
Read: U.S. Soccer star 'comes out'
"This legislation has just been passed into law and it remains to be seen whether and how it will be implemented, particularly as regards the Games in Sochi," it said.
"To that end, the IOC has received assurances from the highest level of government in Russia that the legislation will not affect those attending or taking part in the Games."
Russia won the right to host the 2018 World Cup at a vote in December 2010 and pledged to build 13 new stadiums as part of a near $5 billion plan.
Billions will also be spent on improving infrastructure for the expected influx of tourists and football fans for the global competition.
Part of complete coverage on
The U.S. government recognizes Kosovo, as do most European states, but getting football's ruling bodies to play ball has proved harder.
June 4, 2014 -- Updated 1504 GMT (2304 HKT)
National heroes don't always belong to one country. Ask France's World Cup hero Patrick Vieira, who is rediscovering his roots.
CNN's John Sinnott on the quiet Cambridge graduate behind Liverpool's resurgent campaign.
May 30, 2014 -- Updated 1519 GMT (2319 HKT)
They are the dispossessed -- stateless, and unrecognized by football's ruling body. But these teams will still play at their own World Cup.
Louis van Gaal will be a perfect fit for Manchester United the club, business and brand, says CNN's Patrick Snell.
May 19, 2014 -- Updated 1924 GMT (0324 HKT)
There's a new force in Spanish football -- and Atletico Madrid's ascendance is sharply contrasted by the fall from power of Barcelona.
May 13, 2014 -- Updated 1206 GMT (2006 HKT)
Rubber bullets, drones and FBI-trained riot police. Welcome to Brazil's 2014 World Cup -- will protests overshadow football's showpiece event?
May 9, 2014 -- Updated 1318 GMT (2118 HKT)
The former England international, who famously kicked a banana off the pitch 27 years ago, says education is the key to tackling racism.
May 7, 2014 -- Updated 1200 GMT (2000 HKT)
Of course not. But former Fulham owner Mohamed Al Fayed seems to think the removal of Michael Jackson's statue was a very "bad" idea.
May 7, 2014 -- Updated 1603 GMT (0003 HKT)
The Brazilian star's first season in Spain may have spluttered along, but the 22-year-old says he'll be firing on all cylinders at the World Cup.
April 30, 2014 -- Updated 1715 GMT (0115 HKT)
Former Soviet footballer Sergei Baltacha traveled from the land of the hammer and sickle to join The Tractor Boys and in doing so broke new ground.
April 29, 2014 -- Updated 0931 GMT (1731 HKT)
Villarreal football supporter who threw a banana at Barcelona's Dani Alves during league match handed a life ban by the La Liga club.
Today's five most popular stories