2018 FIFA World Cup focus of round table
© LOC

A round table entitled “The 2018 World Cup: Developing Football, Developing the Country” took place in Moscow on 18 April as part of the “Sport” exhibition. The event featured Russia’s Minister of Sport, Tourism and Youth Policy and the Chairman of the 2018 FIFA World Cup Russia™ Local Organising Committee (LOC), Vitaly Mutko, the CEO of the LOC, Alexey Sorokin, the leaders of regions competing to win the right to host matches during the 2018 event, experts and consultants from FIFA and representatives of the Russian Ministry of Transport and the World Wildlife Fund.

The round table was divided into three sessions: the FIFA World Cup as a catalyst for regional development; the requirements for construction and efficient use of FIFA World Cup stadiums; green standards and sustainable development.

Minister of Sport, Tourism and Youth Policy and Chairman of the Russia 2018 LOC, Vitaly Mutko
“We, that’s the LOC and our colleagues at FIFA, are constantly focusing on the need to ensure that the stadiums that will be built for the World Cup should not end up as white elephants. If we can see that a 45,000-seat arena is not going to be filled on a regular basis, then plans need to be made for prefabricated structures. That way, once the World Cup is over, the stadium capacity can be reduced, so that it meets the requirements and abilities of the city and the club which will be calling the arena home.”

CEO of the Russia 2018 LOC, Alexey Sorokin
“The World Cup provides tremendous momentum for regions to develop. We’ve carried out a preliminary analysis of the investment the economy needs in order to prepare for the World Cup, and that analysis shows that the bulk of the investment will not be going into sport itself, but will be spread across three areas: sports, hotel and transport infrastructure.”

Governor of Samara Region, Vladimir Artyakov
“Samara has one of the oldest footballing traditions in the country. Last year we marked 100 years of football in Samara, and this year is the 70th anniversary of the region’s top club, Krylya Sovetov. We have some of the most dedicated supporters: on average, the stadium in Samara has the third-best attendance anywhere in Russia. In terms of our region taking part in the World Cup preparations, we have every reason to believe that we can handle that, above all because of our special logistical arrangements. The region has one of the country’s main railway lines. We’ve already spent nine billion roubles on rebuilding Samara’s international airport, Kuromoch. And by 2018, we expect our airport to be able to handle three million passengers a year.”

FIFA’s chief consultant on stadium design and construction, Charles Botta
“It’s certainly the case that when you’re building a large number of stadiums from scratch, there’s always the issue of meeting construction deadlines. When you’re preparing for a tournament, it’s crucial that you don’t waste any time. It might appear as if there are still more than six years to go until Russia stages the World Cup, and so there’s no need to push things along. But if you lose time during the preliminary stages, then even if you send 5,000 workers to the construction site as a matter of urgency, it will be too late. As far as Russia goes, I am confident that everything will be done on time. Construction work has already started on five of the arenas which could be used for the World Cup. The remaining stadiums are at the design stage.”

Christian Stamm, FIFA sustainable development specialist
“Green standards and sustainable development are very important to FIFA. That is why FIFA works closely with the LOC and the government to identify the key social and environmental issues that need to be addressed in a host country. The goal is to ensure that the FIFA World Cup is staged in a sustainable way and has an overall positive impact in the country.”