Newsdesk - FIFA Grants Russia 2018 $699 Million; Study Says Footballers Prefer Natural Turf

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Russian sports minister Vitaly Mutko (Getty)
(WFI) Russia will get nearly $700 million from world football's governing body to help organize the 2018 World Cup.

The budget reported by state news agency RIA Novosti covers operating costs of staging the FIFA showpiece through the year 2018 but does not extend to construction or infrastructure expenses.

“FIFA has provided $699 million," Russian sports minister Vitaly Mutko was quoted by the state news agency. 

"For the 2010 World Cup approximately the same amount was granted,” he added in reference to the South African finals.

According to Russian business daily Vedomosti, the organizing committee anticipates the tournament will create a million jobs and increase Russia's GDP by $18 billion.

Football Ferns Book Olympic Berth

New Zealand will represent Oceania in women’s football at a second straight Summer Games. 
Captain Hayley Moorwood is congratulated by her fellow Football Ferns after scoring the opening goal (OFC)

The Football Ferns entered Wednesday’s return leg of their continental Olympic qualifying final with an 8-0 advantage over Papua New Guinea and poured in seven more goals in Port Moresby to book their tickets to London.

“We wanted to use this game as preparation for the Olympics and the only way to do that is to push for the full 90 minutes and I think we achieved that,” Kiwi coach Tony Readings was quoted in a release from the Oceania Football Confederation.

"We've still got a lot of work ahead. We won't see the overseas based players for about two months now which is a shame but then we're hoping to bring them all in for one month before heading over to Europe."

New Zealand joins Brazil, Cameroon, Canada, Colombia, France, Japan, Korea DPR, South Africa, Sweden, USA and hosts Great Britain in the 12-team tournament running July 25 to August 9.

The Oly Whites also qualified for London by defending their title last month at the men's Olympic qualifier for Oceania.

Study Says Footballers Prefer Grass

Ninety-two percent of players prefer natural grass over artificial turf, according to research presented this week by Dutch professional footballers’ association VVCS.
SBV Excelsior in Rotterdam are one of two Eredivisie clubs to play on artificial turf (Getty)

The study polled 538 players across the two professional divisions in the Netherlands and found that 91.6% picked natural grass and only 8.3% artificial turf.

The reasons given for that preference ranged from familiarity with ball bounces (23.9%) to competitive fairness (24.5%) to lower risk of injury (35.7%) to the belief that football should be played on natural grass (77.4%).

For reference, six out of 36 Dutch clubs play on artificial turf – four in the second-tier division and two in the top-tier Eredivisie.

“The verdict is clear, the players do not want to play football on artificial turf,” VVCS president Danny Hesp said in the report.

“It might not appear to be a strong motive - saying that football should be played on grass - but I absolutely understand what they are trying to say.

"Playing football on artificial turf is a totally different experience compared to football on natural grass. It is more of a mixture of futsal and football. It is a totally different game.”

By INSIDER's Matthew Grayson

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