July 21, 2020 | News | No Comments
Russia has earmarked an extra £9.8 million to fund the World Cup, which was already expected to be the most expensive football tournament in history.
The country has allocated an additional 481.6 million roubles (£5.8 million) for temporary World Cup infrastructure and 334.2 million roubles (£4 million) for stadium and training base maintenance, according to decrees quietly published on a government website on Saturday.
Russia’s federal government has already spent more than £8.9 billion on the vast tournament, which is taking place in 11 cities ranging from Yekaterinburg in the Ural mountains to Kaliningrad on the Baltic Sea, where England will play Belgium on Thursday.
That amount was slightly higher than Brazil’s official spend on the 2014 World Cup.
But the respected business publication RBC reported this month that the actual cost for Russia would be £10.7 billion after factoring in the money spent by regional governments.
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These provincial expenditures included road renovations, extra security such as Cossack guards and small modifications, such as adding English-language road signs.
Despite the record-setting price tag for the World Cup, ordinary Russians will see few of the public transport improvements that were initially announced.
Meanwhile, the far-flung tournament, which requires seating for at least 35,000 spectators in each stadium, is poised to leave the country with a herd of white elephants.
Vladimir Putin originally had far loftier plans, aiming to host the games in 14 different cities rather than just 12.
Grandiose transportation projects foresaw rail links to every host city airport and a high-speed railway running more than a thousand miles between Moscow and the 2014 Winter Olympics host city Sochi.
There was even to be a direct rail link to the European Union, starting in Moscow and ending in Vienna.
But enthusiasm soon began to wane, and the collapse of global oil prices in 2014 stretched the budget painfully thin. In the end, the biggest transportation projects realised for the World Cup were a new airport in Rostov-on-Don and new terminals in five other cities.
Russia did build 10 stadiums and renovate Yekaterinburg Arena and Moscow’s Luzhniki, the main venue for the 1980 Olympic Games.
But even with seating to be reduced in some cases after the World Cup, many of these are far grander arenas than struggling local teams could hope to fill.
The 30,000-seat Mordovia Arena, which is modelled after South Africa’s Soccer City World Cup stadium, will be able to fit one tenth of the entire population of Saransk when its local football club returns to Russia’s second league and begins playing home games there.
FC Rotor Volgograd will find itself playing in the 45,000-seat Volgograd Arena, where England beat Tunisia last week, despite having won only 10 out of 38 games in the second league last season.
World Cup host city Sochi does not even have a professional team after its first post-Soviet club folded in 2013 and its replacement went on hiatus.
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