By Andrew Warshaw
October 6 – A FIFA technical team led by director of competitions Colin Smith has completed the latest inspection to Russia’s World Cup sites and reports that although preparations are on course a “significant” amount of work is still to be done over the next few months.
“In general the state of readiness is good,” Smith told reporters in Moscow after the tour of host cities. “There are still some risks and a significant amount of work to be done – especially in the next two or three months” in order to finish all the infrastructure by the end of this year.
“We look forward to the test matches because ultimately that’s the first opportunity we’ll get to see the facilities in action.”
The visit commenced on September 26 and took in the host cities of Yekaterinburg, Samara, Saransk, Nizhny Novgorod, Rostov-on-Don, Volgograd, Kaliningrad and Moscow. “We’ve looked at the readiness of not only the stadiums but the host cities (as a) whole, so we looked at the training sites, hotels, airports and the general road infrastructure,” said Smith.
Russia showcased four of its 12 World Cup venues during this year’s Confederations Cup but many of the others are under construction and have yet to be tested. Sports Minister Pavel Kolobkov has highlighted Samara’s 45,000-seat stadium as one of the key concerns for organisers. The venue remains behind schedule and the company responsible has reportedly been fined.
Concerning Samara’s stadium, which will host six matches, Smith, who heads the FIFA operational commission, added: “The contractors, the city, the region, all relevant bodies have indicated that they are able to deliver the stadium by the end of the year. That’s one of the cases where the timelines are tight and they need to be respected.”
In terms of security, Smith was bullish in his assessment. “For the World Cup there’s a detailed security concept in place. We saw it was very well implemented during the Confederations Cup where no incidents were noted,” he said.
With somewhat awkward timing, a fire broke out at one of the venues built for the World Cup and which the FIFA visit took in. Local reports talked of thick black smoke billowing out of the venue in Nizhny Novgorod but a statement from Stroytransgaz, the contractor building the 45,000-seat venue, said there were no casualties and that the blaze had “no impact on construction and the deadline for the stadium’s completion.”
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