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MOSCOW, May 26. /TASS/. Construction works at the stadium in St. Petersburg, which will be hosting matches of the 2017 FIFA Confederations Cup and the 2018 World Cup, were in compliance with FIFA requirements and there were no infringements on workers’ rights, Russian Deputy Prime Minister Vitaly Mutko told TASS.
British daily The Guardian reported on Thursday that numerous alleged violations took place in regards to workers during the construction of the football stadium in Russia’s second largest city. The daily wrote in particular that head of the football federations of Sweden, Denmark, Norway and Iceland sent a letter to FIFA President Gianni Infantino expressing their concern with labor conditions of North Korean workers at the construction site.
"Everyone was paid," Mutko, who is also the president of the Russian Football Union (RFU), said in an interview with TASS. "Everything was in compliance with FIFA requirements. We are monitoring labor conditions, results are constantly published and there have never been any questions whatsoever."
The deputy prime minister said Western media willfully launched a negative media blitz to smear Russia’s preparations for the world’s two major football tournaments.
Alexei Sorokin, the director general of the Local Organizing Committee (LOC) Russia-2018, told TASS that the committee received no reports about violations regarding the workforce during the construction of the St. Petersburg Arena.
"We know nothing about infringement of rights of workers from North Korea," Sorokin said in an interview with TASS. "All questions related to the allegations of their (North Korean workers) employment should be addressed to the contractor, because if they did work there, they could have been employed by sub-contractors."
Commenting on the situation, FIFA said in its official statement on Thursday night: "FIFA and the Russian Local Organising Committee (LOC) have put in place a dedicated decent work monitoring system to protect workers’ rights at the stadium construction sites for the upcoming tournaments in Russia."
"The monitoring methodology has been drawn up in accordance with Russian legislation and relevant International Labour Organization (ILO) conventions ratified by the Russian Federation," according to the statement from FIFA.
The over 68,000-seat capacity 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.
The new football arena in St. Petersburg will be hosting the opening and final matches of the Confederations Cup, also dubbed as the Tournament of Champions.
The first official match at the new stadium in Russia’s second largest city was held on April 22 as part of the Russian Football Premier League (RFPL) tournament’s 24th round between home team Zenit St. Petersburg and Yekaterinburg Ural FC (2:0).