On 16 May a delegation of senior officials from the 2018 FIFA World Cup RussiaTM Local Organising Committee (LOC) and experts from FIFA visited Moscow, the latest stop on an inspection tour which will help them identify the host cities for the tournament.
Moscow occupies a key role in the organisers' plans for Russia 2018. The Russian capital will be the venue for the opening match and the final, and will also host a series of extremely important events directly relating to the tournament.
Moscow is expected to contribute three stadia to Russia's hosting of FIFA's flagship event. One is the legendary Luzhniki stadium. The other two, the arenas used by the Spartak and Dinamo football clubs, are currently being built or rebuilt.
Luzhniki is at the very heart of sporting life in Moscow. The stadium played host to some of the key events during the 1980 Summer Olympics, and also staged the 2008 UEFA Champions League final. It will be redeveloped in time for Russia 2018, with the capacity being boosted to 89,000. The work is planned to end in 2016, ahead of the FIFA Confederations Cup.
Spartak's new 45,000-seat stadium is scheduled to be ready by the end of 2013. By that time, a new underground station may have entered into service in its immediate vicinity.
Dinamo's arena, a ten-minute drive from the city centre, was built back in 1928, and is the oldest in Moscow. But by 2016, once large-scale reconstruction work has been completed, it will be transformed into a super-modern multifunctional stadium accommodating up to 45,240 people.
Asked how many stadia would be included in the final concept plan for the tournament, the CEO of the Russia 2018 LOC, Alexey Sorokin, said: "We don't know the final line-up yet, because we're still in the middle of the process. We have selection criteria, and we have a commission which is travelling around all the cities and systematically studying the situation in each region. Previous tournaments used 10 or 12 stadia. The final number will be within that range. But something unconventional could also happen. FIFA is ready to listen and enter into dialogue."
At the end of the visit to Moscow, FIFA's head of department for the 2014, 2018 and 2022 FIFA World Cups, Jurgen Muller, had this to say about transport arrangements for Russia 2018: "It's not only candidate [cities] that are completely and utterly perfect that can win the right to host the World Cup. Everyone has to deal with problems like these. And I have no doubt that, by the 2018 World Cup, Moscow will come up with a solution."