Russia slashes €490m from 2018 World Cup budget

Russia has slashed its 2018 World Cup budget by almost 30 billion roubles (€490m), as it attempts to cut back on building facilities deemed excessive, according to a budget amendment posted on the government's website today.

Russia is currently set to host the next World Cup over the summer of 2018 with 11 cities across the country upgrading their stadia, or building new ones entirely, before the world's premier football competition arrives. However, the recent Fifa corruption probe has led to the World Cup selection process being questioned and speculation that Russia could be stripped of its hosting rights, something that Russian government officials, including president Vladimir Putin and sports minister Vitaly Mutko have denied.

According to the latest amendments to the budget, the anticipated cost of the tournament will drop from 661 billion roubles (€10.8 billion) to 631 billion (€10.3 billion). The projects which have been cancelled are primarily luxury hotels which were to be built, with a total 25 potential hotel sites now being axed.

According to sports minister Mutko, most of the changes will be made to guest facilities deemed unnecessary and the stadia will be left largely untouched, although the number of training pitches may be reduced.

"We are working on some clarifications of the budget of the World Cup. Naturally this is connected to optimising the preparation schedule. Above all we are going to reduce the number of gratuitous hotels," Mutko told Russian sports publication R-Sport.

According to the minister, the cuts have been agreed with Fifa and will affect some aspects of the sports facilities built for the tournament.

"We are only speaking of [cutting] unnecessary elements. We, in cooperation with Fifa, were able to optimise the number of hotels and the size of team training facilities. Yes, the number of hotels will be cut. Besides that, earlier there was an idea for every stadium to have four training grounds, now there will be only three," Mutko added

The sports minister highlighted that the capacity of the stadiums will not be changed but admits that there may be further changes to the budget in the future. Mutko added that he did not believe the cuts would impact the quality of the 2018 World Cup.

Over half of the total budget for the 2018 World Cup will be provided by the Russian federal budget, and building is currently ongoing in all 11 cities, including the capital Moscow, Sochi which hosted the last Winter Olympics, the hometown of Russia's league champions St. Petersburg and the industrial hub Nizhny Novgorod.

Besides stadium construction and expansion costs, Russia is also currently investing in vastly improving transport links to the different cities before the tournament begins.

Questions have been raised concerning alleged bribery which may have taken place to secure the hosting rights for the next two tournaments in Russia and in Qatar in 2022, after an FBI corruption probe implicated nine Fifa officials in corruption and prompted Fifa president Sepp Blatter to resign. The bidding process for the 2026 tournament has been postponed as a result.

Russia slashes €490m from 2018 World Cup budget |