On 31 May and 1 June, a delegation of senior officials from the 2018 FIFA World Cup Russia™ Local Organising Committee (LOC) and experts from FIFA paid a two-day inspection visit to Sochi.
Nestling on the Black Sea coast, this famous resort, which will be hosting the Games of the 22nd Winter Olympiad in 2014, is among the cities bidding to host matches during Russia 2018.
The first part of the inspection visit took place on 31 May at Sochi’s Olympic Park. The delegation spent some time at the construction site for the Fisht stadium, named in honour of the westernmost peak in the Caucasus mountains.
Once construction is completed in 2013, the arena and its contours will resemble the peak itself, and it will be the venue for the opening ceremony of the 2014 Winter Olympics. After 2014, if Sochi figures in the final list of host cities for Russia 2018, stands will be added to the northern and southern sides of the stadium, increasing its capacity to 45,000.
If selected to host FIFA’s flagship event, the city plans to organise a fan festival and to screen matches on giant screens in the Olympic Park, which can accommodate up to 80,000 visitors at any one time.
“Our view is that Sochi is currently Russia’s best resort, and our aim is to become the country’s main sporting capital. At the moment we’re paying a great deal of attention to winter sports as part of preparations for the Olympics. Now the time has come to pay attention to summer sports as well,” said Sochi’s deputy mayor, Yury Rykov.
“We have the right set-up for that here, we have professionals in the field who really love their football. Sochi is ready to rise to any challenge, and we hope that FIFA will decide to award the most entertaining matches to our city.”
“Our visit to Sochi left a positive impression on us. The climate is nice and the people are hospitable. It’s important to point out that we were assured that Sochi will overcome any difficulties it may experience as it prepares for the World Cup,” noted FIFA’s head of department for the 2014, 2018 and 2022 FIFA World Cups, Jurgen Muller.
“It was a constructive visit. It’s pleasing that the contours of the stadium in Sochi are already clearly visible. That dispels a whole host of concerns to do with the construction,” added the CEO of the Russia 2018 LOC, Alexey Sorokin.
The final stage of the inspection tour which will help to identify the host cities for Russia 2018 will take place between 18 and 22 June, when the delegation will visit Kazan, Nizhny Novgorod, Saransk, Samara and Volgograd. The final list of cities selected to host matches during the tournament will be announced in September.