(WFI) FIFA secretary general Jerome Valcke says Russia is “well on track” but has “a long way to go” in preparation for the 2018 World Cup.

Vitaly Mutko and Jerome Valcke face off at Tuesday’s LOC Board meeting. (Russia 2018)

“There are many tasks to be fulfilled and a great deal of infrastructure to be created here in Russia to prepare the perfect stage for the 2018 FIFA World Cup and the FIFA Confederations Cup one year earlier,” he told members of the Local Organizing Committee Board on Tuesday.

Topping the agenda for their meeting in Saint Petersburg was Russia 2018’s submission to FIFA of its concept for hosting key matches.
Moscow was proposed to stage the opening match, one semifinal and the final of the 2018 World Cup, all at the Luzhniki Stadium.
Saint Petersburg’s stadium, which is currently being built on Krestovskiy Island, would host the other semifinal in 2018 as well as both the opener and decider of the Confederations Cup in 2017.
The concept awaits confirmation by the FIFA Executive Committee at its Dec. 14 meeting in Tokyo.
“Proposing Moscow and Saint Petersburg, the cradle of Russian football by the way, as the stage for the key matches of these two major FIFA events is an important operational decision for the LOC,” said LOC Chairman and Sports Minister Vitaly Mutko. 
“It is part of our milestone achievements, and our preparations are already in full swing.”
Also Tuesday, the LOC unveiled plans to stage FIFA Fan Fests on Russian soil during the Brazil 2014 World Cup as a teaser of sorts for what supporters can expect come 2018.
“The FIFA Fan Fests in 2014 will be an appetizer of what Russians and the world will experience in 2017 and 2018,” said Valcke. 
“It is fantastic to see the great excitement among the host cities and the Russians already.”
Arena 2018, the appointed stadium monitoring branch of the LOC, also updated Board members on World Cup stadium progress for the first time since the Sept. 28 host city announcement. 
Five stadia (Kazan, Saint Petersburg, Saransk, Sochi, Spartak Stadium) are under construction, and another four (Ekaterinburg, Nizhny Novgorod, Rostov-on-Don, Volgograd) will be launched for the design stage by the end of 2012. The remaining three stadium projects will be launched in early 2013 at the latest.
The Board will next meet in October 2013 in Kazan after the LOC participates in an observer program for the Confederations Cup in Brazil.
By INSIDER’s Matthew Grayson

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