Alexey Sorokin, CEO of the Local Organising Committee for the 2018 FIFA World Cup Russia™, has visited the United Kingdom to hold meetings with some of the UK’s key sports administrators, including the former chairman of the London Organising Committee for the Olympic Games (LOCOG) in 2012, Lord Sebastian Coe; the UK’s sports minister, Hugh Robertson; and the chairman of the Olympic Delivery Authority (ODA), Sir John Armitt. They also met representatives of UK business and officials from the world of football.
The two sides discussed planning and staging major sporting events, focusing in particular on managing construction projects and devising a legacy programme. UK representatives said they were ready to work together with the Russia 2018 LOC, and share the experience and practices they were able to harness as they planned and organised the 2012 London Olympics.
Lord Coe: Russia 2018 could put in place a comprehensive, long-term legacy
Sorokin and Lord Coe met at the headquarters of the UK Foreign and Commonwealth Office, which now houses the famous Briton’s offices. Once the 2012 Olympics were over, Lord Coe, who chaired the organising committee, was appointed the UK’s Olympics legacy ambassador and an adviser to the UK prime minister on the successful delivery of that legacy.
The international sporting community has already recognised the 2012 Olympics legacy as a model example. Its major strength is its regeneration of a depressed industrial area in East London through the construction of a large proportion of the facilities required for the Games, including the Olympic Stadium and the Olympic Village. When the Games ended, the Olympic Village was transformed into a residential area comprising almost 3,000 affordable apartments, parkland and all the required infrastructure.
Many of the facilities used for the 2012 Olympics were temporary. For example, the Olympic Stadium’s capacity was lowered from 80,000 to 25,000 once the Games were over, in order to help the owners control the costs required for its upkeep.
Alexey Sorokin pointed out that the example provided by the London Olympics was of great interest to Russia 2018’s organisers.
“We were interested in their innovative approaches to constructing and managing sports facilities. In my view, their experience of transforming an unwanted industrial area in East London into a modern housing complex by building the Olympic Village is highly relevant to the Russian host cities which will be staging the World Cup in 2018. We will develop the ideas pursued by our UK colleagues and use their experience as we make preparations for our tournament,” said the CEO of the Russia 2018 LOC.
For his part, Lord Coe stressed that Russia is a new market for world football and for FIFA, and staging FIFA’s showpiece event in Russia would provide an excellent opportunity to put in place a comprehensive, long-term legacy for the country.
"Alexey Sorokin and I have known each other for some time, so I was pleased to welcome him to London. We discussed potential areas of cooperation regarding planning, managing and delivering successful global events such as the 2018 World Cup, where there is a lot of interest on the part of both UK government and business in sharing our London 2012 experience with our Russian counterparts." Lord Coe said at the end of the meeting.
Hugh Robertson and Sir John Armitt: Management system plays a key role
The meeting between Alexey Sorokin and UK Sports Minister Hugh Robertson focused on the management of preparations for major sporting events. In the case of the London Olympics, it was Robertson’s department which directly monitored preparations for the Games and the work of LOCOG and the ODA.
The minister drew the attention of the Russia 2018 LOC representatives to the need to ensure that all the facilities to be used for the tournament should be handed over a year in advance of the event. Hugh Robertson also pointed out that, over the seven years it spent preparing for the Olympics, his department had accumulated a great deal of experience, and he would be happy to share that experience with Russia.
During their visit, the LOC delegation had another intensive meeting with Sir John Armitt, chairman of the ODA, the organisation responsible for managing and monitoring the construction of facilities for the 2012 Olympics. Armitt spoke about the project management methods the ODA used, as well as the most effective methods of monitoring expenditure and the ODA’s efforts to ensure that facilities were completed on schedule and in line with the required standards.
As well as the meetings where they studied the experience of the London Olympics in 2012, the Russia 2018 LOC delegation, which also included senior officials from Arena-2018, also visited the UK’s leading stadiums – Wembley, the Emirates, Stamford Bridge, Old Trafford and the Etihad. In addition, LOC representatives met senior police officers responsible for ensuring security at football matches and discussed how to provide security at major sporting events.