Sunday, February 7, 2016

FIFA president Sepp Blatter casts doubt on Russia 2018 World Cup plans

FIFA president Sepp Blatter. (Fabrizio Bensch/Reuters)
FIFA president Sepp Blatter. (Fabrizio Bensch/Reuters)

RIO DE JANEIRO, July 14 (Reuters) - FIFA president Sepp Blatter threw an unexpected seed of doubt into Russia's preparations for the 2018 World Cup on Monday when he said that FIFA will discuss the possibility of reducing the number of stadiums to be used there in four years time. 

Two days after Russian sports minister Vitaly Mutko gave media detailed background about Russia's plans for their World Cup which involves 12 stadiums in 11 cities, Blatter implied that they could be re-examined. 

"It's a footballing country but we will have meetings there in September to see if 12 is the right number and even if they could be reduced to 10." 

His comments came as a complete surprise to Alexei Sorokin, the chief executive officer of the Russian Organizing Committee who told reporters: "This is the first I have heard about it, we know nothing about this." 

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  • Blatter, speaking at his final media briefing following Germany's win over Argentina in Sunday's final, said a FIFA delegation will visit Russia to discuss plans for their finals in September. 

    Blatter described the Brazil World Cup as "very very special" giving it a mark of 9.25 out of 10 but said he was troubled that it cost in the region of $11 billion to stage.

    "It's obvious the World Cup has taken such a dimension that the organization is a hard work for the organizing country and also for the FIFA," he said. 

    "FIFA is looking at 2018 now and we are in discussions on what is the ideal number for the organization and to keep it in such a manner that it's feasible, reasonable and controllable. 

    "We are not going to be in a situation as is the case of one, two or even three stadiums in South Africa where it is a problem of what you do with these stadiums," Blatter said. 

    Russia president Vladimir Putin was in Rio for Sunday's World Cup final and held talks with Blatter while he was in the Brazil capital. 

    Mutko told reporters on Saturday that the country had allocated $20 billion - $9 billion more than Brazil - to staging the tournament. 

    (Editing by Ed Osmond)

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