Set­backs en­dure as Rus­sia preps for WCup

Kuwait Times - - SPORTS -

MOSCOW:

Cor­rup­tion scan­dals, ex­tended dead­lines and even a wob­bly pitch are just a few of the set­backs Rus­sia has faced ahead of the 2018 World Cup, though author­i­ties vow ev­ery­thing will be ready on time. Putting the fi­nal touches on the in­fra­struc­ture in four host ci­ties-Moscow, Saint Peters­burg, Kazan and Sochi­has be­come all the more press­ing be­cause they will also host the Con­fed­er­a­tions Cup next year, a dress re­hearsal for the 2018 tour­na­ment. Pres­i­dent Vladimir Putin this month as­sured that all sta­di­ums would be built within dead­lines and with good qual­ity-a pledge labour dis­putes and tech­ni­cal prob­lems in re­cent months could jeop­ar­dize.

At Saint Peters­burg’s fu­tur­is­tic 68,000-seater sta­dium, the re­tractable pitch had been ren­dered un­suit­able for play due to tech­ni­cal is­sues that made it un­sta­ble-just the lat­est prob­lem to plague the venue, un­der con­struc­tion for nearly a decade. The wob­bly pitch, how­ever, is not ex­pected to cause any more de­lays in the sta­dium’s con­struc­tion, which is set to be com­pleted by the end of the year de­spite de­lays and the main con­trac­tor quit­ting this sum­mer. “The is­sue is that the field rolls into the sta­dium on an un­sta­ble base. It needs to be strength­ened,” RIA Novosti quoted Deputy Prime Min­is­ter Vi­taly Mutko as say­ing this month. Ear­lier this month, the for­mer deputy gov­er­nor of Saint Peters­burg, Marat Oganesyan, was ar­rested over a fraud scheme with a firm that was sup­posed to pro­vide the sta­dium with a video score­board.

Air­port makeovers

The gov­ern­ment also an­nounced last month that the new sta­di­ums be­ing built in Nizhny Nov­gorod and Vol­gograd-which were set to be com­pleted by De­cem­ber 2017 - would not be done un­til the first quar­ter of 2018. De­spite many hic­cups, Rus­sian of­fi­cials have re­mained up­beat about the prospect of host­ing a suc­cess­ful World Cup. “The con­struc­tion process is dif­fi­cult and com­pli­cated,” Dmitry Svishchev, a mem­ber of the par­lia­ment’s sports and phys­i­cal cul­ture com­mit­tee said. “But there have never been any con­struc­tion projects com­pleted eas­ily and with­out any set­backs.”

He added that he ex­pected the sta­di­ums and in­fra­struc­ture to “be beau­ti­ful.” The air­ports of some host ci­ties are also un­der­go­ing makeovers. Moscow’s Shereme­tyevo air­port an­nounced last month that it had in­vested $865 mil­lion into build­ing a new ter­mi­nal and was ex­pand­ing its op­er­a­tions ahead of the World Cup. But Kalin­ingrad’s Khrabrovo air­port, which is be­ing re­built ahead of the tour­na­ment, is in “ter­ri­ble con­di­tion,” Ve­do­mosti busi­ness daily wrote in Septem­ber. — AFP

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