MOSCOW, June 23. /TASS/. Russia’s program of preparations for the 2018 FIFA World Cup is part of the government’s anti-crisis plan, including import substitution measures, Sports Minister and Organizing Committee Head Vitaly Mutko told TASS on Tuesday.
"The preparation for the world champion is a boost to the country’s development," Mutko said.
"The program of preparations for the tournament is an element of an anti-crisis plan in a complex economic situation. Import substitution has helped use materials produced at our enterprises for the construction of stadiums. New jobs are appearing along with output orders for enterprises. Metal and concrete for the arenas are largely made at our enterprises and by our workers," the Russian sports minister said.
"If someone talks about colossal expenses, this is ludicrous," the sports minister said. "Moreover, we’re building the sports infrastructure together with transport and infrastructural facilities. The program is aimed at developing the entire country," Mutko said.
New transport arteries and the subway under construction are not meant just for the 2018 FIFA World Cup, the sports minister said.
Mutko also cited the example of a new airport in Rostov-on-Don, which was being built from scratch.
"Yes, we say this is the program of preparations for the world championship but understand that it will help the development of the entire country," the sports minister said.
The government’s legal information web portal posted information on Monday that Russia’s spending on the 2018 FIFA World Cup preparations would be cut by 30 billion rubles (about $560 million). Under the government’s resolution, expenses on the program were cut from 660.6 billion rubles ($12.3 billion at the current exchange rate) to 631.5 billion rubles ($11.78 billion).
According to the document, 335.2 billion rubles ($6.26 billion) will be allocated from the federal budget, 97.2 billion rubles ($1.8 billion) from regional budgets and 199.2 billion rubles ($3.7 billion) by organizations.
The sports minister said he was bewildered why the program’s optimization caused strange interpretation "through the prism of whether this would affect the preparations" for the 2018 FIFA World Cup.
"The talk is only about the program's optimization. These changes are largely related to the investment component, the excessive number of hotels. These hotels can be built but they will not be projected in the program," the sports minister said.
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.
Russia 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.