MOSCOW: Russia’s government has promised a further $2.5bn to finance the hosting of the 2018 World Cup finals.

The sum was included in the country’s latest draft federal budget, covering the period from 2017 to 2019, with finances to be used to help fund preparations.

Svetlana Gashkina, head of the Finance Ministry Department for Fiscal Policy in the Social Sphere and Science, confirmed the plans at a session of the State Duma Committee for Physical Culture, Sport, Tourism and Youth Affairs.

Gashkina, according to TASS news agency, said: “On the whole, we have 156.4 billion rubles over the three years on the world football championship,”

The 2018 event is due to run from June 14 to July 15 at 12 stadia across the country including two in Moscow. Other cities involved will be Kaliningrad, Kazan, Nizhny Novgorod, Rostov-on-Don, Samara, Saransk, Sochi, St. Petersburg, Volgograd and Yekaterinburg.

Stadium concerns

Deputy Prime Minister Vitaly Mutko, who also serves as president of the Russian Football Union and chairman of the local organising committee for the World Cup, has sought to allay fears over ongoing issues at the Zenit Arena facility in St. Petersburg, stating that workers are trying to stop the stadium’s retractable pitch from shaking.

According to the Associated Press news agency, Mutko said that the 68,000-seat stadium had been experiencing problems with the mechanism that allows the pitch to be stored outside when not in use and wheeled into the stadium for matches.

However, he said the issues will not cause a further halt to work at the long-delayed venue, which is due to host Confederations Cup games next summer.

Mutko, during a recent visit to St Petersburg, said: “The issue is that the field rolls into the stadium on an unstable base and needs to be strengthened.” He added that the problem was “nothing unusual” and the stadium remained on target for completion next month.