Russia gets official status of 2018 FIFA World Cup host
FIFA has officially handed over responsibility to Russia for one of the world's greatest sporting events, with the signing of a three-headed contract between FIFA, the Russian Football Union and the Russian government. The signing ceremony was held in St. Petersburg, where FIFA’s head arrived on January 21. President of the Russian Football Union, Sergei Fursenko, and the CEO of Russia’s 2018 bid, Alexei Sorokin, have also taken part in the ceremony. Vladimir Putin met with Joseph Blatter on Sunday and asked him to appoint specialists from FIFA to come and work in Russia to help Russians in this common enterprise and to take part in the entire process. “We would like to use the experience we have already gained in preparing for the Sochi winter Olympics in 2014,” Putin also said. “We have been working closely together with the International Olympic Committee on this, and we have built up a very constructive business relationship with them.”Mr. Blatter said FIFA would provide as much help to Russia as it can, in organizing the tournament, to ensure the event runs perfectly. “I'm very pleased that the Russian government is playing a direct role in organizing the World Cup,” Blatter said Saturday. “I can assure you that we will work together very closely on this joint venture.”However, he noted that although FIFA will provide its support, the responsibility rests on Russia. “I’m certain that the World Cup will be held at the highest level and will turn into a truly magnificent event,” he added.Russia won the right to host the 2018 FIFA World Cup on December 2 in Zurich in a difficult competition with the other bidders, including England, the Netherlands, Spain and Portugal.Russia put forward a very strong and inspiring bid, supported by impassioned speeches by Russian Sports Minister Vitaly Mutko, captain of the Russian national team Andrey Arshavin and First Deputy Prime Minister Igor Shuvalov. Giving Russia the chance to host the World Cup is the continuation of Joseph Blatter’s mission of making football a truly world game. Mr. Blatter is the first FIFA President to take the World Cup to Africa.However, in order to fulfill all the promises Russia has made, a lot of hard work remains to be done. Russian Prime Minister Vladimir Putin has already ordered the creation of an organizing committee for preparing and holding the World Cup. Russia already has some top-quality stadiums, such as Luzhniki in Moscow and the nearly finished Zenit Stadium in St. Petersburg. Around $6 billion has been allocated to build new stadiums, but much more money will have to be ploughed in to get the country’s transport system ready to handle the hundreds of thousands of fans who will travel to Russia.Russia is planning to host the championship in 13 cities, located in the European part of the country, so the area where the World Cup will be held is quite spread out. Now Russia is also hoping to win the 2018 tournament. Joseph S. Blatter mentioned at a news conference on Saturday that Russian football has developed greatly over the past few years – meaning the surprise success of the Russian national team at the European Cup in 2008. Back then, Russia reached the semi-finals of the tournament for the first time in its history.