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SAMARA, June 10. /TASS/. A new airport terminal in the Russian city of Samara, where major infrastructure construction is underway as part of Russia’s preparations for the 2018 World Cup, was highly evaluated by FIFA, Nikolay Merkushkin, the governor of the Samara Region, said on Wednesday.
Samara, one of 11 Russian cities selected as a venue for the 2018 World Cup matches, hosted on Wednesday the 6th session of the Russia-2018 organizing committee with the participation of FIFA officials on the country’s preparations for the global football tournament.
"The construction of the stadium is also in line with the schedule," Merkushkin said. "As for higher-class hotels — all contracts will be signed in the next two or three days."
FIFA Secretary General Jerome Valcke, who arrived in Samara on Tuesday, wrote in his Twitter account that "Preparations well underway as the city gets ready for the 2018 World Cup."
Having posted a picture of the stadium’s construction works Valcke tweeted: "Samara is the sixth 2018 World Cup Host City which I've visited. The stadium works are well underway and on schedule."
The initial projected cost for building a 45,000-seat capacity stadium in Samara, which was founded in 1586 and boasts a current population of 1.13 million, was estimated at 13.1 billion rubles (almost $250 million), however, Russian Sports Minister Vitaly Mutko announced in April that the cost might be increased.
Samara is a major transport hub thanks to its international airport, major railway station and busy river port. During the World War II Samara, formerly known as Kuibyshev, became the second capital of the Soviet Union as all government departments and diplomatic corps were evacuated from Moscow.
Places of interest for visitors include the massive 37-meter deep Stalin’s bunker and the beautiful nature preserve, Zhigulevskie Hills, on the Volga River. An iconic landmark of Samara is a 68-meter, 20-ton monument of the Soyuz carrier rocket, built to commemorate Yury Gagarin’s space flight.
Russia is already in its 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.