MOSCOW, January 28. /ITAR-TASS/. Russian Sports Minister Vitaly Mutko said on Tuesday that Russia in its preparations for hosting the 2018 World Cup does its utmost to capitalize on its own experience gained from the organization of the 2014 Olympics in Sochi and the 2013 Summer Universiade in the city of Kazan.
“We are taking into account the experience earned not only from the Sochi [Olympics] but from the Universiade in Kazan, too,” Mutko said adding that loads of work still have to be done in a number of Russian cities, selected to host the World Cup matches in 2018.
Following an official ceremony held in September 2012 and attended by FIFA President Joseph Blatter, Russia eventually selected 11 out of the earlier proposed 13 cities, excluding Krasnodar and Yaroslavl. The final list of the 2018 World Cup host cities includes Moscow, St. Petersburg, Sochi, Kazan, Saransk, Kaliningrad, Volgograd, Rostov-on-Don, Nizhny Novgorod, Yekaterinburg and Samara.
The minister said that three of the selected cities currently lacked the necessary infrastructure for housing guests and football fans.
“There are not enough hotel rooms for hosting guests in Saransk, Volgograd and Kaliningrad,” Mutko said. “We have set the task of providing football fans with housing.”
Speaking particularly about Central Russia's city of Saransk, which is also the smallest among the rest of 11, Mutko said the city was about to introduce changes to its initial project on facilities construction for the World Cup.
“The draft project initially envisaged a 20,000-capacity stadium, while for the World Cup we need a stadium seating 45,000,” Mutko said adding, however, that “so far there is no threat of disruptions [in the construction].”
The official said that Kaliningrad, located in Russia’s Baltic enclave on the border with Europe, also experiences a set of difficulties, but that city cannot be substituted with another one.
“Kaliningrad is our country’s region with a particular status,” he said. “The [Russian] Regional Development Ministry has worked out a program for Kaliningrad Region’s development… We have no way back.”
Russia’s Sovetsky Sport daily reported earlier in the day citing Mutko that this year’s initial spending on the construction of seven stadiums in Russia for what is to become the main global football event in four year's time would stand at 29 billion rubles (over $840 million).
“The first stadium to enter the construction phase will be the one in Samara,” the daily quoted him as saying.
Russia won the bid to host the 2018 World Cup a little over three years ago in a tight race against the joint bid from England, Portugal and Spain and the joint bid on behalf of Belgium and the Netherlands. This year Russia also managed to qualify for the World Cup finals in Brazil, after missing the previous World Cups in 2006 and 2010.