FIFA is happy with the progress being made by hosts Russia ahead of the 2018 World Cup after the governing body’s inspection committee carried out its first official visit.
“As we heard today, everything is going according to plan, which is great news for everyone,” said committee head Chris Unger, whose delegation has visited stadiums in St. Petersburg, Kazan, Sochi and two arenas in Moscow.
Construction work around Moscow’s Luzhniki Stadium, which will host the World Cup final, meant that delegates could only view the arena from the outside.
Work is continuing around the clock at the stadium and its surrounding area, which will provide a tournament hub and FIFA’s main office, to ensure everything is completed in time for the Confederations Cup in 2017.
According to Russia 2018 CEO Alexey Sorokin, the majority of discussions with the FIFA officials have been office-based, with the nine-day inspection due to end on Oct. 23.
He said one of the main topics had been how to “maximize the space around the stadiums”. The remaining three days of the visit would be spent looking at plans for stadiums not yet constructed.
“Everything is going according to plan and on the whole, the FIFA delegation have been pleasantly surprised with what they have seen,” he said.
The committee was impressed with the Kazan Arena, which held the World Student Games in 2013.
The work in Sochi, however, pails in comparison to that required to get St. Petersburg’s stadium up and running.
The arena in Russia’s second city has been hit by numerous delays and costs have escalated in excess of the $1.19 billion, according to official documents, agreed with FIFA.
Russia’s Sports Minister, Vitaly Mutko, said last month that the arena, which will accommodate 68,000 spectators, will be completed by the summer of 2016.