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MOSCOW, March 2. /TASS/. Russia’s preparations for hosting matches of the 2017 FIFA Confederations Cup, which is due to kick off in less than four months, are satisfactory, but there is still a lot of work to be done, FIFA’s Director of Competitions Colin Smith said on Thursday.
A delegation from the world’s governing body of football, FIFA, led by Smith, began its fifth operating visit to Russia this Monday, namely to the cities of St. Petersburg, Sochi, Moscow and Kazan, which were selected to host matches both of the 2017 Confederations Cup and 2018 World Cup.
The current visit by the FIFA delegation is due to end on March 3 and on Thursday the delegates arrived in Moscow, following their stopovers in St. Petersburg on Monday, Kazan on Tuesday and Sochi on Wednesday.
"In general, we are satisfied with the progress and the plans," Smith told journalists following his visit to Spartak Stadium in Moscow on Thursday.
"There is clearly still a lot of work to be done in certain venues," the FIFA official said. "That is why we come and visit, that’s why we work closely together with the cities, with the stadiums and with the LOC (Local Organizing Committee)."
"After each visit we agree on a plan of action and we focus on whatever the particular issues are in each venue and we work with all parties involved in order to ensure that the fine-tuning is completed in time before the tournaments," Smith added.
FIFA fully trusts the Russian authorities in their efforts to provide security and prevent all possible brawls among football fans during the 2017 Confederations Cup and the 2018 World Cup, according to Smith.
"From our perspective, we have trust in the arrangements that all authorities are going to put in place for the Confederations Cup and for the World Cup," Smith told journalists in Moscow after his visit to Spartak Stadium.
"There has been a lot of information exchange between the authorities in Russia and between UEFA,… between the authorities in France during and after the (2016 UEFA) Euro Cup," the FIFA official said.
Numerous altercations were reported between football fans at the major European football tournament held in France between June 10 and July 10, 2016. The most notorious brawls broke out between Russian and English fans ahead of the June 11th match. Clashes erupted on June 9 in Marseille, peaking on the day of the match - June 12.
Law enforcement authorities resorted to tear gas, smoke pellets and water cannons to disperse the rabble-rousers. According to reports, more than 30 people had been injured in violent altercations, with four people sent to hospitals after sustaining severe injuries.
On June 14, 2016, French policemen stopped a bus with over 43 Russian football fans headed from Marseille to Lille, where their national team played its second group stage match against Slovakia.
One of the most important steps taken by the Russian authorities to provide security during the 2017 and 2018 FIFA Cups was the introduction of the so-called Fan-ID, according to Smith.
"The authorities here in Russia will also introduce a fan-ID, a process where every fan will be required to have fan-IDs to enter the stadiums for the Confederations Cup and the World Cup. So we have got trust in the authorities that everything will be done," Smith said.
The fan-ID will play an important role in the provision of security during the 2017 FIFA Confederations Cup and the 2018 FIFA World Cup as they would be granting admittance to the stadiums and would also serve as visas for foreign visitors.
A holder of the fan-ID will be allowed to enter the country without having a Russian visa and stay for the duration of the global football tournament as well as for the period of ten days before and after the championship.
In order to clear the country’s border a holder of the fan-ID would also have to produce an identification document, a ticket for a match or a document verifying the purchase of a ticket.
"These tournaments are the festivals of football," Smith said. "They are supported by real football fans, and that is by far, far by the vast majority of people."
"What we can be sure of is that this will be a festival of football and there is no place in such festivals of football for those who are not here to support the sport and support the game," the FIFA official added.
The FIFA Confederations Cup, which is also viewed by experts as a rehearsal a year prior to the FIFA World Cup, will be held between June 17 and July 2 at four stadiums in Russia and they are Spartak Stadium in Moscow, Zenit Arena in St. Petersburg, Fisht Stadium in Sochi and Kazan Arena in Kazan.
Participants in the 2017 Confederations Cup are hosts Russia, 2014 FIFA World Cup Champions Germany, 2015 Copa America Champions Chile, 2015 AFC Asian Cup Champion Australia, 2015 CONCACAF Gold Cup winners Mexico, 2016 UEFA Euro Cup champs Portugal, OFC (Oceania Football Confederation) Nations Cup victors New Zealand and 2017 CAF Africa Cup of Nations Champion Cameroon.
The Draw for the 2017 FIFA Confederations Cup was held on November 26 in the Russian city of Kazan. Following the event, hosts Russia was placed in Group A alongside with Portugal, Mexico and New Zealand. Group B has brought together Germany, Chile, Australia and Cameroon.
The opening game will be held in St. Petersburg on June 17 between Russia and New Zealand. Russia will face Portugal in Moscow on June 21 and on June 24 it will play Mexico in Kazan.