Preparations take centre stage in St Petersburg
© RIA NOVOSTI

St Petersburg played host to the first news conference this year to give leading figures from world and Russian football the opportunity to answer questions from journalists about preparations for the 2018 FIFA World Cup Russia

FIFA President Joseph S. Blatter

On the work of the Russia 2018 Local Organising Committee (LOC)
I spoke to Russian President Vladimir Putin, and he confirmed that he was pleased with the LOC’s work.

On the sanctions that may be imposed on fans for bad behaviour and displays of racism

Because of the bad behaviour of fans, particularly where racism and discrimination are concerned, we have to impose strict punishments if nothing changes. We are organising anti-discrimination and anti-racism seminars right around the world. We won’t stop talking about this. Discrimination exists in society, and football is a victim of that discrimination. If the penalty is purely financial, then it won’t work, because money will always be found to pay that penalty. Playing matches behind closed doors is not a particularly good solution. Football is for the fans. We could deduct points or relegate teams. We’ll discuss these issues in three weeks’ time in Zurich, at the next meeting of the Strategic Committee. More than 300 million people are part of FIFA, and that’s more than the population of the world’s largest country – Russia. We can’t answer for everyone all at the same time, but we’re working on this problem.

Vitaly Mutko, Russian Sports Minister and Chairman of the Russia 2018 LOC

On monitoring construction of stadiums for Russia 2018

The Russia 2018 LOC has set up a special organisation, Arena-2018. It’s got nothing to do with contractors or commissioners, it’s financed by the LOC. In conjunction with Arena-2018, we are already carrying out extremely close monitoring to make sure that stadium designs comply with FIFA requirements, and that the construction work is of the required quality and that all the deadlines are met. Once every three months, Arena-2018 will be compiling a monitoring report on stadium construction, and that will be submitted to the chairman of the LOC’s Supervisory Council, in other words the Russian President, and all the other senior figures responsible for preparations for the tournament. Each commissioner will sign an agreement with Arena-2018 which will set out tough deadlines, and that will be underpinned by a government ordinance.

On the timetable for the construction of the stadium in St Petersburg

In April we will agree the final timetable for the construction of the stadium in St Petersburg. Our monitoring of the arena’s construction will be very rigorous.

On the stadiums which will be hosting matches at Russia 2018

All the stadiums which are being readied in advance of the FIFA World Cup in 2018 must be built for the same price. Our prototype of sorts will be the stadium in Kazan, which will have a capacity of 45,000 and will cost around 12 billion roubles for a turn-key finish. That stadium will be very high-tech and will meet all FIFA requirements. On 1 March, it will be made available for use and will come under the control of the Organising Committee for the Universiade. To design the stadiums, we’ll be recruiting the very best companies, in agreement with FIFA – companies that have worked in Germany, South Africa and Brazil. By the end of the year, we’ll announce a tender for the construction work for at least two stadiums.

On the State Duma passing a law on the 2018 FIFA World Cup

In December, the FIFA Executive Committee reviewed preparations for three World Cups – in Brazil, Russia and Qatar. They use a 100-point evaluation system, and we scored 112. This doesn’t mean that we’re absolutely ready right now, but we’re setting a good pace. Parliament is currently considering a piece of legislation which would provide all the guarantees required for us to host the World Cup. Our expectation is that sometime this year, or even during this session, the State Duma will pass the law along with the amendments. This law will set in stone the obligations which the Russian Federation has assumed in terms of the preparations for and staging of the World Cup. Between now and April 2013, based on instructions from the Russian President, we are drawing up a government ordinance, which will include a list of the investment projects and actions that need to be taken ahead of the World Cup, as well as an approximation of the resources available in each host city.

Alexey Sorokin, CEO of the Russia 2018 LOC

On eradicating racism inside stadiums in the run-up to Russia 2018

I can assure you that, in the very near future, in conjunction with the Russian Football Union, the LOC will introduce initiatives designed to eradicate displays of racism. FIFA takes a very tough line on this, and our stance also has to be tough.

On rebuilding the Luzhniki stadium

The stadiums can be divided into those that are already being built and those where the design work has only just started. We’re waiting for the contract on Luzhniki to be signed. In all other respects, the designers have already made their decisions and the process is under way. Will they rebuild Luzhniki? There are several options, several solutions. We’ll find out once and for all how the project is to be implemented once the contract and the technical requirements have been signed.