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MOSCOW, April 7. /TASS/. Russia plans to cut spending on hotels construction for the 2018 FIFA World Cup, but the mooted change will not affect the accommodating capacity for fans during the much-awaited global football tournament, Russian Sports Minister Vitaly Mutko told TASS on Tuesday.
The Russian government put forward a draft decree proposing to save up to 27 billion rubles ($477 million) on the construction of hotels in the cities selected to host the 2018 World Cup matches. The government proposes to slash the construction of 25 new hotels, to relocate the construction of 14 hotels to new sites, while nine more will be substituted with facilities of the equivalent scale.
"This is a draft decree stipulating amendments to the federal program on the preparations for the 2018 World Cup," Mutko said in an interview with TASS. "We have agreed with FIFA that we will be following its minimal requirements concerning each region’s accommodation of national teams, referee squads, the so-called representatives of FIFA family, FIFA guests, accredited journalists and so on."
"We do not need fashionable hotels, constructed to FIFA’s highest requirements, to stay empty after the championship," Mutko said. "Considering the minimal requirements of the organization we have worked out programs of FIFA groups’ accommodation with each region and will be correspondingly reducing the costs."
The Russian sports minister said, however, that the planned spending cuts would not affect at any rate the country’s accommodation capacities intended for football fans traveling to see matches of the most prestigious global football event.
Less than two months ago Russia had already introduced changes to the program of its preparations for the 2018 World Cup, in particular reducing the number of training sites for the upcoming global football championship and reducing seating capacity of two stadiums.
A relevant document was agreed upon with the Russian Sports Ministry as well as with the International Federation of Football Associations (FIFA) and signed by Russian Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev.
The number of initially planned 48 pre-tournament training sites across Russia has been reduced to 37 and the seating capacity of two out of 12 total stadiums selected to host the 2018 World Cup matches has been slashed by some 22%
The two stadiums at the issue are the Baltika Stadium in Russia’s western city of Kaliningrad and the Central Stadium in the Urals city of Yekaterinburg. Their accommodating capability will be downsized from 45,000 to 35,000-seat capacity in line with the minimization of the construction costs.
Mutko announced in January that Russia would cut its budget spending on the organization of the 2018 World Cup, but would keep its expenditures on the infrastructure and stadium construction unchanged, despite ruble volatility.
According to the minister, financial programs of all departments involved in the organization of the global football championship were slashed by 10%, excluding spending items on the infrastructure.
Russia’s ruble has slumped over the past half year to a record low of 80 rubles to the dollar in mid-December, compared to an average of 38 rubles in September. The Russian currency currently stands at over 56 rubles to the dollar. It was traded at 33 rubles to the dollar at the start of 2014.
The total budget of 664.1 billion rubles for the organization of the 2018 FIFA World Cup in Russia was announced in 2012. This figure stood at $20.5 billion based on the 2012 average exchange rate. If converted to the current exchange rate this figure drops to $12.1 billion.
Russia, however, is currently in full-swing preparations for the Preliminary Draw, which is the first major kick-off event ahead of the global tournament itself.
The draw for the 2018 FIFA World Cup Preliminary Competition will be held on July 25 in Russia’s second largest city of St. Petersburg with a total of 208 nations having signed up for the participation in the event.
It will be for the first time in the history of World Cups, when all national teams registered for the Preliminary Draw. Russia as the hosting nation automatically qualified for the championship and therefore is not taking part in the preliminary competition.
The first major kick-start event of the 2018 World Cup will be held at the historic Konstantinovsky Palace, a stronghold of Russia’s rich culture located on the Gulf of Finland’s stunning shoreline. It used to serve in the 18th century as one of the residences of Russia’s imperial family.
Russia won the bid to host the 2018 World Cup over four 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.
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.