MOSCOW, January 16. /TASS/. FIFA president Sepp Blatter is fully satisfied with Russia’s preparations to host the 2018 World Cup and is confident that the much anticipated global football tournament will be held at the highest possible level, Russian Sports Minister Vitaly Mutko said on Friday.
Mutko held a meeting with Blatter on Friday in St. Petersburg, where the FIFA president arrived to take part in the opening ceremony of the XXIII International football tournament "Commonwealth Cup" to be held in Russia’s second largest city between January 16 and 25.
“We have discussed a wide range of issues, particularly the preparations for the 2018 World Cup as well as sports and political aspects,” Mutko said in an interview with TASS. “Blatter said he was confident that Russia will organize the world championship at the highest possible level. He is satisfied with the way we are preparing for the tournament.”
“Blatter assured me that FIFA has no questions at all to Russia,” the sports minister said. “FIFA does not even ponder introducing any changes regarding the organization of the 2018 World Cup. FIFA completely trusts us.”
Mutko also said that the idea of holding the championship’s official opening ceremony one day prior to the World Cup’s inaugural match was still on the agenda, but he did not discuss this issue with Blatter today.
“This initiative is still open and it is being discussed with FIFA administration,” he said. “However, we did not discuss it today with Blatter.”
Last month Mutko announced that the official opening ceremony of the 2018 FIFA World Cup in Russia might take place at the Dynamo Stadium in Moscow, one day ahead of the opening match of the championship.
The opening match of the championship featuring hosting team Russia has been scheduled for June 14 at Moscow’s Luzhniki Arena, which together with the Otkritie Arena are the two stadiums in the Russian capital out of total of 12 across the country to host the championship’s matches. In case the Dynamo Stadium in Moscow is approved for hosting the official opening ceremony, the event will be held there on June 13.
Last year’s World Cup was hosted by Brazil between June 12 and July 13. The opening ceremony was staged at the Arena de Sao Paulo and was immediately followed by the championship’s inaugural match between hosts Brazil and team Croatia.
The Dynamo Stadium, which is being constructed in the Russian capital within the frames of the VTB Arena Park project, will be home for the Dynamo Moscow football club and is mooted to bear the name of world’s legendary goalkeeper Lev Yashin.
The stadium is planned to be opened in 2017 and it will have the 26,319-seat capacity. The VTB Arena Park project also envisages the construction of a universal arena near the stadium for hosting ice hockey and basketball matches as well as concerts and other entertainment events. The arena will have the capacity of 11,000-14,000 seats.
Russia won the bid to host the football competition four years ago in a tight race against a joint challenge from England, Portugal and Spain and the combined bid by Belgium and The Netherlands.
Shortly before Brazil’s Rio de Janeiro dropped the curtains on the 2014 World Cup with the final Germany-Argentina clash in July, the baton of global football tournament’s hosting nations passed to Russia. The symbolic handover ceremony of the right to host the competition was held at the iconic 74,700-seat Maracana Stadium in Rio, attended by FIFA President Blatter, Brazilian President Dilma Rousseff and Russia's President Vladimir Putin.
Russia selected 11 host cities to be the venues for the matches of the 2018 World Cup and they are Moscow, St. Petersburg, Sochi, Kazan, Saransk, Kaliningrad, Volgograd, Rostov-on-Don, Nizhny Novgorod, Yekaterinburg and Samara.
The matches of the 2018 World Cup will be held between June 14 and July 15 at 12 stadiums located in the 11 mentioned above cities across Russia. Two of the stadiums are located in the Russian capital.