Kazan sits its exam
© LOC

A delegation of senior officials from the 2018 FIFA World Cup RussiaTM Local Organising Committee and experts from FIFA visited Kazan on 18 June as part of the process of selecting the cities that will be hosting matches at FIFA’s showpiece event. The city is hoping to stage matches in both the group and knockout stages of Russia 2018 and the FIFA Confederations Cup in 2017. Kazan has also been nominated to host the draw for the Confederations Cup.

As soon as the delegation flew into Tatarstan, they were hosted by the republic’s president, Rustam Minnikhanov, at the Kazan Kremlin. He assured the members of the inspection commission that the republic’s top officials would act on all the observations and wishes the experts would be setting out during the course of their visit. “For us, it’s important that Kazan, alongside Russia’s largest cities, should be in the running to host matches at the FIFA World Cup, given that once we have hosted the Universiade in 2013, we will have all the necessary infrastructure,” Minnikhanov said

After their working meeting with Tatarstan’s leader, the delegation headed off to Kazan’s Millennium Square, which the city has chosen as the venue for its fan festival. Not only is the square handily situated, commanding attractive views of the Kremlin, the Kazanka river and the Central Stadium, but it also displays impressive technical specifications. Organisers estimate that, during the FIFA World Cup, the square will be able to accommodate up to 100,000 supporters, which would make it one of the tournament’s biggest festival venues. Fans will be able to travel to the fanzone using overground transport, the metro or a high-speed train which will link the city centre with Kazan’s airport. Construction of the high-speed rail-link began in May 2011.

Kazan’s new 45,000-seat stadium is preparing to host its first international sports events as soon as next year. The stadium will be the venue for the opening and closing ceremonies of the 2013 Universiade, and soon after the World Student Games are over, it will become home to one of the country’s leading football clubs, Rubin Kazan. The delegation from the Russia 2018 LOC and FIFA spent time at the site where the new arena is being built. There, the head of the 2013 Universiade executive directorate, Vladimir Leonov, assured his guests that construction work was on schedule and the stadium would be delivered on time.

The delegation was also briefed on plans to modernise Kazan’s airport. Next year, its throughput capacity will increase to 1,200 passengers an hour, and its runway will be able to cater for all types of aircraft. By 2018, the airport will be able to handle up to 2,400 passengers an hour.

Speaking to the media at the end of the delegation’s visit to Kazan, the CEO of the Russia 2018 LOC, Alexey Sorokin, spoke about the issue of ensuring security for fans and guests attending Russia 2018. “We will be preparing for every match extremely carefully, taking our country’s specific national characteristics into account. We will definitely be taking note of the experience of organising previous World Cups and European Championships, as well as our own domestic championship. The 2018 World Cup will have top-level security,” Sorokin insisted.

After Kazan, the delegation of Russia 2018 LOC officials and FIFA experts headed off to Nizhny Novgorod for another inspection visit. The commission is also due to visit Saransk (20 June), Samara (21 June) and Volgograd (22 June). The final list of host cities for Russia 2018 will be announced in September.