World Cup CEO Alexei Sorokin is busy driving the project forward (Russia 2018)

(WFI) Russia 2018 organisers tell World Football INSIDER they are busy finalising the infrastructure investment programme that will be “crucial for hosting an impeccable FIFA World Cup”.

All key Russian ministries are involved in identifying the facilities including training sites, team base camps, airports and transport, accommodation and security infrastructure required by FIFA.

The 2018 FIFA World Cup Russia infrastructure investment programme – a balance of funding between federal and regional budgets – is scheduled to be adopted by the government in April.

“Once the programme is approved and signed off, it will provide the funds for construction and modernisation of the 2018 FIFA World Cup infrastructure,” Russia 2018 told INSIDER.

It will be a multi-billion dollar initiative on a scale perhaps not seen
for any FIFA World Cup before, such is the work that needs to be done to
overhaul Russia’s transport infrastructure. FIFA’s evaluation of Russia’s World Cup bid in autumn 2010 clearly indicated this fact.

Another key April milestone is the release of Russia 2018’s annual report for 2012, which is designed to provide the general public with the whole picture of the preparations for the tournament.

Still to be introduced is a World Cup law that will be “a manifestation of the support of the Russian Federation to host a successful FIFA World Cup and implementing the guarantees issued by the Russian government during the bidding stage”.

Work on the legal framework for the tournament is still taking place. The LOC expects the law to be signed by the Russian president Vladimir Putin by the end of this year.

Asked about the other challenges ahead in preparations for the 2018 World Cup, organisers told INSIDER that “close attention” would be paid to stadia construction progress.

In 2012, the LOC established a special agency “Arena-2018” that is monitoring the stadia design and construction to ensure they conform to the requirements of FIFA.

Five out of twelve FIFA host stadia are already under construction: St. Petersburg, Saransk, Kazan, Sochi and the arena of Spartak Moscow. Two stadiums, in Kazan and Sochi, will be completed this year.

Last year, seven host cities – Ekaterinburg, Kaliningrad, Moscow (Luzhniki), Nizhny Novgorod, Rostov-on-Don, Samara and Volgograd – announced design tenders for new arenas. The work will get under way on these projects in the coming months.

Amid reports that Zenit St. Petersburg’s new stadium will cost more than $1 billion, sports minister Vitaly Mutko last month warned the host cities to curb excessive spending on venues. He suggested that Kazan’s $396 million Rubin Park Arena was an example for the other 10 host cities to follow.

The project remains under intense scrutiny after Russia’s main auditing body warned in January that the stadium lacked a building permit and violated other construction regulations.

Whether St Petersburg will deliver on Russia 2018 bid book pledges to build what is set to become the most expensive World Cup venue remains to be seen. The city proposed to build a 69,500-seat stadium with a moveable roof and retractable pitch. The venue will host a World Cup semi-final.

Meanwhile, the creative process to develop the official Russia 2018 World Cup emblem will begin this year, organisers told INSIDER.

FIFA World Cup posters for the Russian host cities were launched in 2012 – the first official identity of the tournament. The official logo will be unveiled next year.

Russia 2018 claims the Confederations Cup in Brazil this summer will be an important event for the LOC; an observer team led by CEO Alexei Sorokin will be on the ground in the six host cities to learn lessons from the 2014 World Cup warm-up tournament.

In December, an LOC delegation will also participate as observers at the finals draw of the 2014 World Cup.

By INSIDER’s Mark Bisson

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