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Russia never paid Argentina for playing friendly football match — Deputy PM Mutko

November 02, 15:03 UTC+3

RBC reported earlier that the Russian Football Union allegedly pledged to pay the Argentinian side about $1 million if they agree to play a friendly football match against the Russian squad

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MOSCOW, November 2. /TASS/. The Russian Football Union (RFU) did not pay money to the Argentine Football Association for the organization of a friendly match between the national teams of two countries this month in Moscow, Russian Deputy Prime Minister Vitaly Mutko told TASS on Thursday.

Russian daily RBC reported earlier that the RFU allegedly pledged to pay the Argentinian side about $1 million if they agree to play a friendly football match against the Russian national football squad.

"The RFU paid nothing for this match," Mutko, who is also the RFU president, said in an interview with TASS.

The match between hosts Russia and Argentina is scheduled for November 11 at the Luzhniki Stadium, which had been idle for the period of reconstruction works since 2013. Tickets for the match went on sale last week on Wednesday with prices starting at 750 rubles ($13).

RFU President Mutko said that the organization of friendly matches against top-ranked world football teams always required great expenses.

"They (expenses) include accommodation, air flights, training bases and transfers," he said. "There is a certain system of interaction between the national teams and much depends on the level of their global ratings."

The income from the organization of a friendly football match must be higher compared with expenses and "our team must be at the same level with Argentina in order to earn this much, or gather full-house attendances at each match at the Luzhniki Stadium," Mutko added.

Russian Deputy Prime Minister Mutko, who oversees the issues of sports, tourism and youth affairs in the Russian government, said he hoped to see great game between the Russian and Argentinian teams as well as to witness the full-house attendance at the 78,000-seat capacity stadium.

Most of the tickets have been sold out, he said, "and there are only 19,000 tickets are left on sale."

"Football fans will have the chance to see for the first time the newly-reconstructed Luzhniki Stadium and our task is to test the facility ahead of the 2018 FIFA World Cup, namely to check the readiness of the admission and control systems, catering organization and the work of stewards," Mutko said.

"Only several friendly matches are left to be played (ahead of the 2018 World Cup) and all of them are against the high-ranking national teams," Mutko told TASS. "Taking a quick look at the roster of Argentina and seeing that its footballers are playing for the world’s top-notch clubs you realize that it will be a definitely uneasy match."

"It will be a very useful game for our boys," Mutko said. "I hope to see a full-house attendance and watch great football."

The refurbishment of the Luzhniki Arena began in 2013 as part of the country’s preparations to host the 2018 FIFA World Cup and once the work was completed, the stadium expected to extend its spectator capacity up to 81,000 seats.

It was the second grand-scale reconstruction of the stadium, originally built in 1957. The first major repair works on the stadium took place in the run-up to the 1980 Summer Olympic Games in Moscow.

Following the current reconstruction efforts, the athletics tracks inside the stadium were removed, the spectators’ stand are now rectangular in form and moved closer to the pitch, while the number of tiers were increased to 16 from the previous 13.

One of the main aspects of the reconstruction project was to preserve the historical facade of the stadium, which, according to FIFA, "since 1956 hosted a multitude of major sporting and cultural events, including the 1980 Summer Olympics, world championships in ice hockey, athletics and rugby and concerts featuring some of the world's greatest musical performers."

The Luzhniki Stadium’s principal affinity, however, was with football since over 3,000 matches have been played there over the years.

Early this month, the RFU announced that the Russian national football team would play at home two friendly matches next month against the teams of Argentina and Spain on November 11 and 14 respectively.

The Russian national football squad played two friendly fixtures this month, namely against South Korea in Moscow on October 7 (4-2) and Iran on October 10 in Kazan (1-1).

After hosting the FIFA Confederations Cup this summer, Russia is now in full-swing preparations to host the 2018 FIFA World Cup.

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 above-mentioned cities across Russia. Two of the stadiums are located in the Russian capital.

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