Sun, Jul 22, 2018 - Page 11 News List

Putin says World Cup venues should be used for soccer

Reuters, KALININGRAD, Russia

Russian President Vladimir Putin on Friday said that the nation’s 12 World Cup venues should be mainly used for soccer, not transformed into concert halls or exhibition centers.

Speaking at a meeting of government and sports officials at the World Cup stadium in Kaliningrad, Putin said that the government would financially support World Cup venues for another five years to ensure that they can operate independently by 2024.

“You mention exhibitions, concerts, tourism and a commercial space. That’s alright, the stadium needs to be full,” Putin told Kaliningrad Governor Anton Alikhanov. “But ideally, we need to strive for every stadium to have a team and every team to have a stadium. Otherwise, it will not be a stadium. It will be a concert hall.”

When Russia won the right to host the World Cup, Putin pledged that the stadiums built would become the homes to vibrant soccer clubs.

Out of the 12 stadiums used at the World Cup, only six were fully new and commissioned for the tournament, while others were renovated or being built anyway. Six of the 12 stadiums are home to Russian Premier League clubs and there are plans to make another into the national soccer stadium.

In some of Russia’s World Cup cities, ensuring that stadiums remain full and financially sustainable can prove to be a challenge.

Kaliningrad has a new 35,000-seat stadium, but its local soccer team play in Russia’s second tier.

The use of some of the venues remains unclear, leading Putin to ask Russian Minister of Sport Pavel Kolobkov to present a plan for the future of every stadium and training pitch built for the World Cup.

“This needs to be concrete and not only general wishes,” Putin said.

Putin said that Russia was interested in expanding the use of the fan-ID.

Russian World Cup organizing committee CEO Alexei Sorokin said the tournament had given a boost to local business, with tourists spending about 100 billion roubles (US$1.58 billion).

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