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BUENOS AIRES, September 10 (R-Sport) – FIFA president Sepp Blatter has pronounced himself happy with Russia’s preparations for hosting the 2018 World Cup, telling R-Sport on Tuesday that there are “no problems” with proceedings.
Russia won the right to host its first World Cup in 2010 and will host the tournament across 12 stadiums in 11 cities at an estimated total cost of $20 billion.
“For the time being, we have no problems in the football. They are working very hard, and they are on the schedule,” said Blatter, speaking on the sidelines of the International Olympic Committee congress in Buenos Aires.
Blatter also said he was happy with a deal reached by FIFA and Russian organizers to allow a lower seating capacity than previously planned at Moscow’s Luzhniki arena, currently being refurbished to host the final in 2018.
“We are very happy we have also found the solution with the Luzhniki stadium because we do not insist on a too high number of spectators,” he said. “We must be rational and have stadia that can be used afterwards as well.”
Organizers had wanted the change to Luzhniki because of the estimated 1.5 billion euro cost of a more extensive rebuild.
With Euro 2020 to be held in 13 cities across Europe, Russia had been considered a contender to host games before Sports Minister Vitaly Mutko said last week that it might not bid because of the “near zero” chance UEFA would allow a country to host World Cup and European championship games in quick succession.
Blatter, however, said that being a recent World Cup host would actually be a boon to Russia, which should bid since the infrastructure would be in place. Any Russian city that is proposed, whether it’s “Moscow, St. Petersburg, Kazan or Sochi,” would be a strong candidate, he said.
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