With only 45 days remaining to the Preliminary Draw on 25 July 2015 in St. Petersburg, the preparations for the first official event in the 2018 FIFA World Cup Host Country was the main point on the agenda of the sixth meeting of the Russia 2018 Local Organizing Committee (LOC) Management Board held on Wednesday 10 June 2015, in the Oblast Government House in Samara.

The LOC Chairman Vitaly Mutko, who led the meeting together with FIFA General Secretary Jérôme Valcke, provided a comprehensive update on the overall pace of preparations at the Konstantinovsky Palace which will host the Preliminary Draw. The members also discussed the various activities planned in the week of the draw during which the match calendars for both the 2018 FIFA World Cup and the FIFA Confederations Cup 2017 will be presented. Furthermore, they reviewed the key elements of the show that will accompany the draw proceedings for the qualifiers in five confederations. Only the Asian region - where the qualifiers are already in progress - will not be drawn in St. Petersburg.

The board consists of representatives of the senior management of FIFA and the LOC and focuses on operational aspects of the preparation of the tournaments and other competition-related events such as the Preliminary Draw. The approval of the 2018 Sustainability Strategy was another important milestone. The strategy sets out the main goals and principles for the sustainable management and operations of the FIFA World Cup. FIFA, the LOC as well as national and international independent sustainability specialists have worked on the document for the last 18 months. The strategy is scheduled to be publicly launched on 23 July 2015 in St. Petersburg.

Ahead of the meeting, the delegation used as for previous meetings the occasion to witness the preparations being made in Samara and the surrounding regions for the 21st edition of football’s flagship event. This included a visit to the building site for the new stadium in Samara, where the foundations are being laid. Over 700 people, including 51 technicians, are working on the site, where preparations are well underway and on schedule.

The visitors also took in the new passenger terminal at Kurumoch Airport, which began operating this February. Kurumoch International Airport is the largest airport in the Volga Region. Some 46 airlines operate regular services to over 90 destinations from Samara. The opening of the new terminal has boosted the airport's capacity to 3.7 million passengers a year – although it is capable of handling 6 million people, if required. Active preparations for the World Cup are happening across Samara: some 78 items are currently included in the region's programme of preparations.

Russia 2018 LOC Chairman Vitaly Mutko noted: “Here, in Samara, we made certain again that Russia is ready to present the wonderful gift to the rest of the World – 2018 FIFA World Cup. So as St. Petersburg, one of the beautiful cities of Russia, is ready to host the first official event of 2018 FIFA World Cup, the Preliminary Draw. We as a host country continue to fulfil our obligations to prepare all the events and projects of 2018 FIFA World Cup in time, we are well on track and on schedule. There’s no doubt all the events of 2018 FIFA World Cup in Russia will go through at top level».

FIFA General Secretary Jérôme Valcke said: “Samara and the Volga region will be a great venue for football fans in 2018. Overall the preparations for the FIFA Confederations Cup and the FIFA World Cup as well as our first major event, the Preliminary Draw, are well underway and on schedule. It was important today that we approved the 2018 Sustainability Strategy to provide a framework to ensure sustainable operations pre-, during and after the FIFA World Cup.”

The LOC Chairman reported huge interest from creative people across the country participating in identifying the best character to represent the 2018 hosts as an ambassador – the Official Mascot.

The next Board meeting is scheduled for November 2015 Nizhniy Novgorod.