MOSCOW: Vitaly Mutko has said a decision on whether Russia should trim back its 2018 World Cup stadia will be taken by the FIFA executive committee later next month writes KEIR RADNEDGE.

Mutko, both Russia’s Sports Minister and also a member of the world federation’s exco, was reacting to pressure from Sepp Blatter.

FIFA’s president, concerned about negative reaction to the escalating cost of staging mega events, had indicated in Rio de Janeiro in July that Russia should revisit the original hosting plan announced amid great fanfare in September 2012.

This indicated a scheme to host the World Cup matches in 12 stadia in 11 cities: Moscow (two venues), St Petersburg, Kazan, Nizhny Novgorod, Saransk, Kaliningrad, Volgograd, Yekaterinburg, Samara, Sochi and Rostov-on-Don.

A FIFA working group is currently visiting the venue cities to follow up Blatter’s weekend visit to Russia during which he held talks with Mutko, oragnising ceo Alexey Sorokin and state President Vladimir Putin.

Mutko, in a statement to ITAR-TASS, said: “The concept, in which the 12 stadiums in 11 cities to host matches of the World Cup, is not changed. FIFA has recommended 10 stadia in nine cities, including the two arenas in Moscow.”

Mutko said a decision about a reduction could not be delayed any later than October because of construction deadlines. The next FIFA exco meeting is scheduled for September 25-26 in Zurich.

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