Russia successfully hosting the 2018 FIFA World Cup answered all the questions about the country’s hospitality, former international Alexey Smertin said on Monday. “The impression that every one had of the country after the World Cup was at a high level, that is why as a result we were highly estimated by FIFA for our joint work,” Smertin, 2005 Premier League winner with Chelsea and former national captain,said And to my mind, no one has any more questions towards Russia if it’s a football country or if it’s a hospitable country. We are happy to see everyone without exceptions.”

Russia’s selection for hosting football’s biggest tournament was beset with questions and scrutiny over alleged racial and homophobic discrimination in football, with former FIFA vice-president Jeffrey Webb saying in 2015, “We can’t have a World Cup there under the current conditions. Russia poses a huge challenge for FIFA and the World Cup from a racism standpoint.”

But glowing reviews from a million attendees and FIFA itself led Russia President Vladimir Putin to be “thrilled that our guests saw everything with their eyes, and that myths and prejudice collapsed.”

Smertin, who was appointed as the anti-racism and discrimination inspector weeks ahead of the tournament and serves as director of regional policies and international relations, said, “When one and a half years ago I was offered the position, I knew it meant being responsible. Not only for myself but for all those who you can’t be responsible for, like the fans. It’s not a football team where you are all one, and work as a mechanism when the goals and tasks are the same. There were stereotypes about our country and because of propaganda, unfortunately, not all fans could come and cheer for their national teams, but those who did were very pleased. It’s great that the Organizing committee, the law enforcement, the fans were appropriate.”