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Russia Hopes Fans Swarm To World Cup (And Locusts Don't)

According to one official, around a million hectares of land in southern Russia is infested with locusts. (file photo)

A Russian Agriculture Ministry official has warned that locusts could cause problems when Russia hosts the soccer World Cup later this year.

"I'm afraid this year we could end up in an international locust scandal," ministry official Pyotr Chekmaryov told Russian media.

Chekmarev said around a million hectares of land in southern Russia was infested with locusts, including around the World Cup host city of Volgograd, and added that it was important not to "disgrace ourselves before the world."

"The whole world is coming here. Football fields are green. Locusts love it where there is lots of green. How would they not come to the place where football is being played?" Chekmaryov wondered.

The 2018 World Cup is scheduled to be held between June 14 and July 15 in 11 Russian cities -- Moscow, St. Petersburg, Sochi, Kazan, Saransk, Kaliningrad, Volgograd, Rostov-on-Don, Nizhny Novgorod, Yekaterinburg, and Samara.

Earlier this month, Russia's transport minister, Maksim Sokolov, told state media that he expected 3 to 5 million tourists to come for the World Cup.

The official budget for the event is $11 billion.

Based on reporting by AP, RIA Novosti, and Reuters