Saturday, June 23, 2018

Putin promises "unforgettable football feast" for 2018 FIFA World Cup

When visiting Brazil's Marcana Stadium last week, Russian President Vladimir Putin promised an "unforgettable football feast" when Russia hosts the FIFA World Cup in 2018.

"We will do all we can to organize the event on the highest level," Putin said, according to SuperSport. "We will do our best to present the world an unforgettable football feast and genuine Russian hospitality in 2018."

Russia spent more than $50 billion on the 2014 Sochi Winter Olympics, and expenditures for the World Cup are expected to reach more than $20 billion, making the 2018 event Russia's most ambitious project since the fall of the Soviet Union.

Russian Sports Minister Vitaly Mutko estimated that half of the funding needed to prepare the country for hosting the World Cup will come from private investment, while the other half will be derived from eight separate regional budgets, SuperSport reports.

World Cup 2018 matches will be held in Moscow, St. Petersburg, Sochi, the Volga region, Yekaterinburg, Kaliningrad, Nizhny Novgorod, Samara, Saransk, Rostov-on-Don and Volgograd. Some of the cities' stadiums are already complete, but many will require stadiums to be built new.

Moscow's Luzhniki Stadium, host of the 1980 Olympic games, is currently being expanded to accommodate 81,000 spectators. Luzhniki will hold both the opening match of the World Cup, as well as the final game, according to SuperSport.

Moscow's Spartak Stadium, which is expected to be completed in September, will hold 42,000 spectators, while Kazan's brand-new 45,100-seat stadium is already operational. Yekaterinburg's Central Stadium will require $3.16 billion in renovations before it can host any World Cup events.

"We expect to start building worlds in August or September at latest," Mutko said of the plans for Central Stadium, SuperSport reports. "We believe all the venues will be ready in time."

FIFA President Sepp Blatter praised Russia's work thus far in preparing to host the games.

"The Russians have started to work so hard right from the start," Blatter said, according to SuperSport. "It's a different approach. I am happy."