October 4 – In a significant intervention over organisation of the World Cup, Russian president Vladimir Putin has expressed concern over delays to preparations but says they are not yet “critical”.
Putin says some construction work on stadiums is behind schedule that but he was satisfied with the overall condition of the venues.
“These delays are not critical, there is nothing terrible there, but as I have always said … it is the most difficult thing to resolve tasks at a final stage,” Putin is reported to have told a meeting of the presidential council for sport.
Cautioning against complacency, he added:. “If we relax, we will not fully accomplish the work. Solving problems is mostly complicated at the final stage and we should pay very special attention to it.”
The tournament will be held at 12 venues in 11 Russian cities – Moscow, Saint Petersburg, Sochi, Kazan, Saransk, Kaliningrad, Volgograd, Rostov-on-Don, Nizhny Novgorod, Yekaterinburg and Samara.
Putin was reacting to comments by Russian Sports Minister Pavel Kolobkov who said the 45,000-seat World Cup stadium in Samara, which has been plagued with delays over the past year, was the biggest issue.
“There are some delays at different stages of construction at the stadium in Samara,” Kolobkov said, adding that the company building the venue had been fined. “A timetable for making up for the delays and (a system) for the daily monitoring of the venue’s completion have been established.”
At the meeting on Tuesday, the governor of the Kaliningrad region, Anton Alikhanov, reportedly asked Putin to ensure that “at least some regions” receive state support to maintain the venues after the tournament.
“For Kaliningrad, where there is no Premier League team for now, handling a 35,000-seat stadium is quite difficult,” Alikhanov said.
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