Russia worried over World Cup stadium dispute


The Russian authorities and FIFA are concerned over a dispute that has halted construction of a key World Cup 2018 stadium, Sports Minister Vitaly Mutko said Wednesday.

Work on the futuristic 68,000-seater arena in Saint Petersburg, Russia’s second city, was frozen last month because of a contractual disagreement between local authorities and the firm overseeing the construction.

The spaceship-shaped stadium is scheduled to be a host for seven World Cup games in 2018, including a semi-final and the third-place playoff.

But it is also one of four venues chosen to host FIFA Confederations Cup matches, which start in June next year. Four games are to be played there, including the final.

“We’re seriously concerned with the construction of the stadium in Saint Petersburg,” Interfax agency quoted Mutko as saying, adding that the situation was “under the control” of President Vladimir Putin.

The minister added that the delay threatens to see the Confederation Cup games shifted to another venue and that a decision on this would be taken in autumn.

“In October we will visit Saint Petersburg together with FIFA representative to finalise the decision,” Mutko said.

In May, FIFA expressed concern over the situation and called for “tighter project coordination” during a visit to the venue.

Construction of the stadium began in 2007 but has hit by spiralling bills and missed deadlines.

The venue will serve as a home ground for Zenit St Petersburg after the tournament.

Russia will host the 2018 World Cup at 12 stadiums in 11 cities: Moscow, Saint Petersburg, Kazan, Nizhny Novogorod, Volgograd, Rostov-on-Don, Kaliningrad, Samara, Yekaterinburg, Saransk and Sochi.