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MOSCOW, April 4. /TASS/. A delegation from the Federation of International Football Associations (FIFA) begins on Monday its third planned inspection visit to Russia to evaluate the country’s preparations to host the 2018 FIFA World Cup.
The current ten-day inspection visit of FIFA delegates kicks off today in St. Petersburg, one of the 11 cities across Russia to host the matches of the much-anticipated global football tournament.
Besides Russia’s second largest city of St. Petersburg, the delegation is scheduled to visit before April 14 the cities of Nizhny Novgorod, Volgograd, Samara, Yekaterinburg and Sochi.
While visiting the Black Sea resort city of Sochi, the delegation will be provided with a virtual tour of the rest of the cities selected to host the 2018 World Cup matches, which are Kazan, Kaliningrad, Moscow, Rostov-on-Don and Saransk.
The delegation is headed by Alexei Sorokin, the director general of the Local Organizing Committee (LOC) Russia-2018, and also includes among others FIFA Competitions Director Colin Smith and Christian Unger, the head of FIFA 2018 football championship preparation department.
During the previous two visits, the FIFA delegates closely inspected Russia’s construction process of the stadiums and accompanying infrastructure for the upcoming world championship. This time FIFA inspectors plan to focus on the discussions how work of all involved services at stadiums would be organized and coordinated during the football matches of the 2018 World Cup.
According to last month’s reports, newly-elected President of FIFA Gianni Infantino had been reportedly making plans to visit Russia this month as well to see how the country is preparing for the global football tournament.
Last Thursday, Russian Sports Minister Vitaly Mutko announced that Infantino’s provisionally set date of visit to Russia was April 20.
"When is he visiting? The provisionally set date is April 20," Mutko, who is also a member of the FIFA Executive Committee and the president of the Russian Football Union (RFU), told journalists.
Speaking on March 18 in Zurich at his first news conference in the capacity of the FIFA president following his election to the post in late February, infantino said: "I am sure that in Russia we will organize together with our Russian friends the best World Cup ever."
"We need to still work a little bit, but we are there to work, and we will organize the best World Cup ever," Infantino said.
Russia is currently in full-swing preparations for the global football championship after the country won the bid to host the 2018 World Cup at the FIFA Congress in Guatemala on December 4, 2010. The victory came following a tight race against the bid from England, the joint bid from Portugal and Spain and the joint bid on behalf of Belgium and the Netherlands.
The country 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 of Moscow.
Last September, a total of 33 cities across Russia involving over 450,000 people were celebrating the 1,000-day countdown to the 2018 World Cup.