MOSCOW: A senior Russia 2018 official has admitted that every one of its venues for the 2018 World Cup is having trouble meeting FIFA standards as Sports Minister Vitaly Mutko stressed that transparency would be key as organisers seek to keep the tournament’s $20.75bn budget in check.
Daniil Izotenkov, head of Arena 2018, a company set up by Russia 2018 to ensure stadiums meet FIFA requirements, said that outside assistance would be drawn upon.
“All of the stadiums have problems meeting the FIFA standards,” said Izotenkov, according to the RIA Novosti news agency. “This is linked with the absence of experience in working on stadiums, so we are bringing in foreign specialists with experience of creating stadiums for the World Cup.”
Russian Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev last week signed off on the Infrastructure Programme for the World Cup at a cabinet meeting. When Russia won the bid to host the World Cup in 2010, Russian President Vladimir Putin projected the total cost at about $10 billion.
Mutko, who also serves as Russia 2018 chairman, said: “We’re going to do everything we can to make this project transparent. The more openness there is, it seems to me, the fewer opportunities there are for corruption.” Mutko stressed each part of the budget will be checked at every stage of the design and building process, with a principle of “hyper-personal responsibility” to make individual officials accountable.
He added: “From the start, this project, which is starting now, will be kept under public control. That’s one of the right things (to do).”
While there is no blanket anti-corruption strategy in place for the World Cup, Mutko added that the government plans to stage meetings with all agencies involved, including the security service (FSB) and the state Audit Chamber.
He suggested efforts could be modelled on the 2013 Summer Universiade in Kazan – a $600 million project that has encountered few problems. “There are projects like the Universiade where we are working calmly,” he said. “We’ve got serious support there from the Audit Chamber.”
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