MOSCOW, July 18. /TASS/. The situation with the stadium construction in St. Petersburg is the cause for concern but the Federation of International Football Associations (FIFA) expects the new arena to be commissioned on time, the FIFA press office told TASS on Monday.
"FIFA is closely monitoring the issues reported in St Petersburg over the last few days. The situation gives cause for concern, however, FIFA fully expects that the local authorities live up to the guarantees they provided and that the stadium will be delivered by December 2016 as promised," FIFA said in a statement.
As was reported on Friday, the St. Petersburg administration financing the Zenit Arena construction submitted a report to law-enforcement bodies about a shortage of 2.5 billion rubles ($39 million), which the general contractor, Inzhtransstroy-Spb, could not explain.
The St. Petersburg authorities also sent a notice to Inzhtransstroy-Spb on Friday about cancelling the contract.
After this notification, Chairman of Russia’s Federation Council commission for preparations for the 2018 World Cup Vadim Tyulpanov told TASS that in the event of the contract’s cancellation, a new general contractor might extend the deadline of the stadium construction and the new arena might not be commissioned by December 2016, due to which St. Petersburg might fail to host the 2017 FIFA Confederations Cup.
Later, Russian Sports Minister and Chairman of the Russia 2018 FIFA World Cup Organizing Committee Vitaly Mutko said that the option of replacing the stadium on Krestovsky Island slated for hosting the 2017 FIFA Confederations Cup was not on the agenda and the new arena would be built on time.
The stadium designed to host the 2017 FIFA Confederations Cup and the 2018 FIFA World Cup matches was laid down in the western portion of Krestovsky Island in St. Petersburg in 2007. The construction project was amended three times: in 2008, 2010 and 2013. Each time, the cost of the arena was increased from the initial estimate of 6.7 billion rubles ($268 million at the average ruble/US dollar exchange rate for 2007) to possible 43.8 billion rubles ($692 million at the current exchange rate).
TASS earlier reported that the budget estimate for the Zenit-Arena stadium construction had been raised by 4.3 billion rubles ($68 million) to 39.2 billion rubles ($619 million at the current exchange rate).
Russia 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.
The FIFA Confederations Cup will be held in four Russian cities - Moscow, St. Petersburg, Sochi and Kazan - from June 17 to July 2, 2017.