The third session of the Board that brings together the 2018 FIFA World Cup RussiaTM Local Organising Committee (LOC) and representatives of FIFA took place in Kazan on 29 October. In keeping with tradition, during the meeting the two sides reviewed the LOC's work and discussed what will be done over the coming year to prepare for the 21st edition of football’s flagship eventThe meeting is chaired by LOC Chairman and Sports Minister Vitaly Mutko.
Despite the fact that the end of 2013 is still two months away, it is already clear that this has been the most fruitful year yet as the LOC continues its preparations for FIFA's showpiece event. The LOC highlighted three key milestones that have been reached in recent months.
The federal programme to deliver infrastructure for the FIFA World Cup is rightly seen as the most far-reaching of these. The programme covers more than 300 facilities and events, 70 per cent of which will contribute to the creation and improvement of transport facilities, ICT infrastructure, energy supply systems, healthcare and communal infrastructure. The programme will mean that existing infrastructure can be significantly renewed in the tournament's host cities, people can move around more easily and the regions concerned will become more attractive to investors. The programme was drawn up with the intention of putting in place a long-term legacy for the Russian public.
Following on from the launch of the federal infrastructure programme, the host cities are developing regional programmes designed to ensure that each host city honours its commitments.
Meanwhile, in June 2013, the Russian parliament passed a federal law on the FIFA World Cup preparations, which provides a legal basis for government guarantees, and also serves as a cornerstone for the work required to prepare for and stage the tournament in Russia.
The third and final key milestone is the ongoing work to design and build the arenas that will be used for the FIFA World Cup. In June 2013, five years in advance of the event, the first of the tournament's 12 stadiums came on stream, in Kazan. By November, the stadium could be hosting its first matches. The same month, construction work is expected to be completed at another 2018arena, the "Fisht" Olympic stadium in Sochi. And Spartak Moscow's arena will be opening its doors to football fans by the summer of 2014.
This year architects have also started designing another seven stadiums that will be used during the tournament, while a further two arenas, in Saint Petersburg and Saransk, are already under construction. Responsibility for monitoring and advising on stadium compliance with FIFA requirements rests with Arena-2018, the organisation set up by the LOC specifically for this purpose. Arena-2018 has already embarked on this work and is supplying FIFA and the Russian government with quarterly reports on stadium design and construction.
"I'm very pleased with the speed of the preparations that we're seeing at the moment in Russia," FIFA Secretary General Jérôme Valcke said at the meeting. "FIFA currently has three World Cups on its agenda, and since the 2014 tournament in Brazil is just around the corner, it's really important for us that Russia isn't waiting until the whole world starts looking ahead to 2018, but is responsibly pressing on in all the key areas."
In addition, the LOC is drawing up a transport blueprint for the World Cup, and has made a start on the extremely important process of drawing up sustainable development programmes. FIFA and the LOC have already held a launch seminar as part of these programmes.
An important outcome from the council meeting was final approval of a date for the Preliminary draw. This will take place on 25 July 2015 in St. Petersburg.
"We are extremely pleased with our cooperation with FIFA and with the level of understanding shown by the sides as we proceed with preparations for the World Cup," Vitaly Mutko, LOC Chairman and Russian Sports Minister, said at the end of the session. "We're finding it easy to reach agreement on the key issues, and there was yet further evidence of that at this meeting."
The LOC Board is the highest-ranking body in which Russia and FIFA cooperate on preparations for the 2018 World Cup.