ST PETERSBURG: FIFA and Russia World Cup organisers have been relieved to be able to report that the Opening Match of the Confederations Cup in June as now an all-ticket sell-out writes KEIR RADNEDGE.

The announcement by FIFA secretary-general Fatma Samoura followed a joint board meeting between the world federaion and the 2018 local organising committee in the long-delayed St Petersburg Stadium which will host Russia v Portugal.

Samoura said: “We are 53 days from the kick-off [and] we can already announce that the match between Russia and Portugal in Moscow will be the full house – the tickets for this game are currently no longer available.”

Vitaly Mutko, the Russian Deputy Prime Minister who heads the 2018 local organising committee, praised co-operation with FIFA and claimed it had produced “serious results.”

Four of Russia’s World Cup stadia are in operation and volunteers are being trained up.

Mutko added: “All current issues will be solved by June 2. From that day the LOC and FIFA will manage all infrastructure (stadiums, training grounds etc.) We’re enthusiastic and sure that the Confed Cup will take place at the highest level.”

Colin Smith, FIFA’s chief competitions and events officer, sought to provide reassurance over the state of the pitches inteh four Confed Cup stadia in St Petersburg, Mosow, Kazan and Sochi.

He said: “We are focused now on the test matches. We’ve got two different types of stadiums. Two of them are new – in Sochi and Saint Petersburg; while the other two in Kazan and Moscow are long existing and fully operational facilities.

“In St Petersburg the first test of the stadium in the football mode was last Saturday when Zenit played its home match here. Generally it went well.

“There have been talks about the pitch. It coped well as it’s a very young pitch. It will certainly be in even better condition for the next match. We are sure that it will be a top class pitch in June when the FCC takes place.”

However Alexey Sorokin, ceo of the Russian LOC, offered a note of caution.

Sorokin said: “Of course, it’s impossible for the very first match to be absolutely perfect. We understand this. Some systems still need to be properly tuned. We’ll get to the tournament fully prepared.”