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Volume 6 No. 217
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Russia World Cup Cities Announced, Country Plans To Spend $20B On Tournament

Russia Sports Minister Vitaly Mutko said that the country "plans to spend almost $20B on hosting the 2018 World Cup," according to Gennady Fyodorov of REUTERS. The projected cost is "nearly twice bigger than the original sum" originally given by then-Prime Minister Vladimir Putin when Russia was awarded the tournament in '10. Mutko said, "These are not the final numbers. You can call these figures a rough estimate." Mutko added that half of that money "would come from the federal government." Asked when the stadiums would be ready, Mutko said, "We have five arenas (in Moscow, St. Petersburg, Kazan, Sochi and Saransk) that are under construction. Next week, I think, we'll start designing four more" (REUTERS, 9/30).

THE CITIES: Eleven host cities and 12 stadiums were selected to host the 64 matches of the 2018 World Cup Saturday during a broadcast on Russia's Channel 1 station. The cities are divided into four geographic clusters: Moscow (Central), St. Petersburg and Kaliningrad (Northern), Nizhny Novgorod, Kazan, Samara and Volgograd (Volga), Rostov-on-Don, Sochiand and Yekaterinburg (Southern). The two stadiums in Moscow to host matches are Luzhniki and Spartak (FIFA).

SETTING A PRECEDENT: In Moscow, Anatoly Medetsky reported that the decision means that the chosen cities will have to provide top-quality stadiums, hotels and transportation services, which will "drive billions of dollars of investment." FIFA President Sepp Blatter said, "It's the first time the World Cup is to take place in Eastern Europe." FIFA Secretary General Jérôme Valcke said that "the size of the city was not a criterion for selection, but that the legacy the tournament would leave was considered important." Russia President Vladimir Putin said that the championship "would be a good reason for the country's youth to take an interest in sports" and would help pull some of them away from alcohol and cigarettes. He also said that the preparations "would give a powerful impetus to the economy and create new jobs" (MOSCOW TIMES, 9/29).

TOUGH DECISIONS: REUTERS reported that Moscow's 90,000-seat Luzhniki stadium will stage the final, and a 45,000-seat arena being built by the Spartak club will also host matches. Saransk, smallest of the contenders and with little football tradition, was "considered an outsider" along with Yaroslavl, but made the list "at the expense of the southern city of Krasnodar." Krasnodar, which boasts two clubs, FK Krasnodar and Kuban, in Russia’s top flight, was "shocked by the decision." FK Owner Sergei Galitsky wrote on his Twitter account, “This is unbelievable. They kicked out Krasnodar -- the most passionate football city in Russia.” Kuban General Dir Suren Mkrtychan added: “There must be a logic in that decision, but I just don’t understand it. I’m in shock!” (REUTERS, 9/30). Mutko said, "The final selection of the 2018 FIFA World Cup host cities is an important milestone en route to hosting the tournament in 2018. This decision launches the full-scale preparation for the FIFA World Cup in the 11 host cities across the country" (PA, 9/29).

TIME TO CELEBRATE: The AFP's Stuart Williams noted that Putin "played up the long-term benefits of hosting the World Cup" in an interview with state TV at his residence recorded hours before the ceremony. Putin: “It will be a huge construction project. But even at a time of global economic turbulence it will be a very good stimulus for the economy. There will be new jobs, new technology and new infrastructure -- and not just in sport.” Russian TV showed "wild celebrations" breaking out in the provincial cities given the chance to host games, even in those that have "yet to lay a single brick to begin construction of stadiums." Kaliningrad Governor Nikolai Tsukanov told state TV amid a mob of cheering locals, “We do not yet have a stadium, but we will build one" (AFP, 9/29).