Exclusive - Russia World Cup Chief Upbeat Ahead of FIFA Visit, Strategic Vision Launch

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Russia 2018 CEO Alexey Sorokin (WFI)
(WFI) Russia 2018 chief Alexey Sorokin tells INSIDER that FIFA is satisfied with progress across the project as World Cup organisers prepare for a big week of events in their tournament preparations. The LOC will next week unveil their strategic vision, interim logo and welcome a FIFA delegation for a host cities seminar.

"The progress is steady and very satisfactory both to us and to FIFA," Sorokin told INSIDER.

"We are now working on integrated project planning and the World Cup law. There has been some movement there. On stadiums, we are defining the parameters of designs," he said.

In January, FIFA president Sepp Blatter claimed Russia's World Cup preparations were ahead of those for the Brazil edition that have been characterised by stadium and infrastructure delays and, lately, lack of progress on 2014 World Cup legislation.

Sorokin declined to compare Russia's 2018 preparations to developments for Brazil 2014.

"It is up to FIFA to make judgements, compare and make analyses," he said.

At a media briefing in Moscow next Tuesday, 2018 chiefs will reveal their World Cup Russia interim event emblem - the official logo is not launched for another two years - an outline of the country's vision for the competition and its legacy and an update on the host city selection process.

Russia's sports minister Vitaly Mutko, who chairs the World Cup organising committee, will join Sorokin and FIFA's director of marketing Thierry Weil in speaking at the event.

"It's a big press conference for us," an LOC spokesperson told INSIDER.

A 16-member FIFA delegation, including several directors, will take part in the two-day candidate city seminar that opens in Moscow next Wednesday.

Of the current 13 cities and 15 stadiums proposed, which are divided into four geographical clusters, only 11 cities and 12 venues will make the cut when the selection process concludes in September.

Around 120 people, including mayors, governors and stadium owners drawn from the 13 cities and their regions, are expected to attend the LOC seminar. It's the second such workshop following the inaugural summit last October.

"The objective is to give clear instruction to the cities of what is required to organise the World Cup, what responsibilities are with who, what is the expectation of the host cities, what is the level of possible investment and what is the criteria for the host city selection process," he explained.

The Russia 2018 supremo said the LOC seminar would cover all aspects of World Cup planning and preparations including stadia and transport construction work, marketing, TV rights and CSR.

Earlier today, Dmitry Mosin, Russia's director for planning and project management, underlined the scale of the task ahead for 2018 organisers at the International Sport Security Conference in Doha.

Mosin admitted Russia's resources may be overstretched in delivering a series of mega-events so close together - the 2013 Universiade in Kazan, 2014 Sochi Winter Olympics, 2015 Formula One Grand Prix and 2018 World Cup.

"We could be if we approach it wrongly. But the right approach would probably be to find synergies in al this... economies of scale in terms of materials and competencies that are around in the market, for instance in master planning," he told the conference.

With 2018 World Cup tickets set to double as visas for football fans - a first for FIFA's showpiece - Mosin admitted to "huge" risks in delivering a secure ticketing strategy. He expects anything between 500,000 to one million foreign fans to attend games.

"That is a risk. We have to assess it in more detail. We need to work in the countries of origin [of fans] rather than in the country of destination and check the backgrounds of people purchasing tickets. That is an absolute must," he added.


By INSIDER editor Mark Bisson

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