FIFA set dates for 2018 World Cup as Putin promises currency crisis will not affect tournament
FIFA announced today that the 2018 World Cup final will be played in Moscow on July 15 as Russian President Vladimir Putin promised the current currency crisis in the country would not affect preparations.
The FIFA Executive Committee confirmed the dates for the tournament during its meeting today in Marrakech with the opening match due to be played on Thursday, June 14.
The final is scheduled to be played at the 81,000-capacity Luzhniki Stadium, which hosted the 1980 Summer Olympics and is currently being reconstructed for the World Cup.
The 2018 World Cup officially kicks-off next March, with the first of more than 800 qualifying matches.
FIFA revealed that had it agreed that some preliminary-round matches will start then in the Asian and CONCACAF regions.
The main qualifying matches and groups will be drawn next July 25 in St. Petersburg.
FIFA also confirmed the dates for the 2017 Confederations Cup warm-up tournament, which is scheduled to take place between between June 17 and July 2.
Confirmation of the dates for the World Cup come amid a currency crisis in Russia – the worst since 1998 – has seen the the Government there spend $87 billion (£56 million/€71 billion), or 17 per cent, of its foreign reserves trying to protect the ruble which has been severely hit by a combination of falling oil prices and sanctions imposed by the United States and European Union following the annexation of Crimea.
Russia’s ruble exchange rate has slumped over the past few weeks to hit a record low of 75 rubles to the dollar on Tuesday (December 16).
The total budget of 664.1 billion rubles for the organisation of the World Cup was announced in 2012.
This figure stood at $20.5 billion (£13.1 billion/€16.7 billion) based on the 2012 average exchange rate.
If converted to the current exchange rate this figure drops to $9.1 billion (£5.8 billion/€7.4 billion).
Football has been badly hit by the crisis and the Russian Football Union (RFU) is currently 500 million rubles (£5.5 million/$8.5 million/€7 million)) in debt.
Russia’s national team coach Fabio Capello has not been paid for six months.
But Putin has reassured FIFA that preparations for the event – due to be held in 12 stadiums in 11 cities in Russia – will not be affected by the financial crisis.
“This is just an extra reason for the development of Russia and we can spare money on it,” he said.
This article was republished with permission from the original publisher, insidethegames.