MOSCOW, Oct 5, (Agencies): Preparations for next year’s World Cup finals in Russia are on track but lots of work remains to be done, global soccer’s governing body FIFA said on Thursday.
“In general the state of readiness is good, planning is good and on track,” Colin Smith, FIFA’s director of competitions, told reporters.
“There is a significant amount of work to be done, especially in the next two-three months to have all the infrastructure in terms of construction and some of the commissioning works completed by the end of the year.”
Russian officials have been positive about the country’s progress but concede that work on some venues is behind schedule.
President Vladimir Putin on Tuesday said the overall state of the venues was satisfactory but admitted that delays remained.
Construction on the 45,000-seat stadium in Samara — which will host six World Cup matches, including a quarter-final — has been plagued with delays over recent months.
The company building the stadium said in August it was 30 days behind schedule but that they hoped to finish work on the venue by the end of the year, the initial deadline for its completion.
Russia showcased four of its 12 World Cup venues during this year’s Confederations Cup, a two-week tournament that featured the home country, defending world champions Germany and the champions from FIFA’s regional confederations.
Many of the remaining venues, however, are still under construction and have yet to be tested.
Russia is set to host the World Cup from June 14 to July 15 in 12 venues spread across 11 cities including Moscow, St Petersburg, Kazan and Sochi.
Argentina, Uruguay and Paraguay formally launched South America’s three-nation bid to host the 2030 World Cup on Wednesday and said Argentina would likely host the majority of the tournament’s stadiums.
The presidents of the three nations, who announced in August that they were teaming up to bid for the tournament, kicked off the campaign at the Casa Rosada, Argentina’s government palace.
They said that the bid would likely involve two or three stadiums in Paraguay and Uruguay and six to eight stadiums in Argentina.
They also played up the appeal of the World Cup returning to Uruguay where the first tournament was held in 1930.
“We know there are other countries that want it but I think the 100-year anniversary of the first World Cup in Uruguay makes the region a very attractive prospect,” said Paraguay’s President Horacio Cartes.
Uruguay won the first World Cup in Montevideo after beating neighbours Argentina 4-2 in the final.
Argentina and Uruguay, who have both won the World Cup twice, decided to launch a joint bid earlier this year and later added Paraguay, who have never won the tournament.
“The original idea came from Uruguay and it took us 40 seconds to say yes,” Argentine president Mauricio Macri said.
No other bid has yet been announced for the 2030 tournament, although China has declared an interest in hosting the event in the future.
FIFA President Gianni Infantino met with the three leaders in Buenos Aires earlier in the day but did not take part in the news conference.
The three presidents did not say which countries would host the final and prestigious opening match. They also did not discuss how much investment would be needed for the 48-team tournament.
A first formal planning meeting will be held in early November, Cartes said. Russia will host the World Cup in 2018 and Qatar four years later. The host nation for the 2026 competition has yet to be decided.
The list of potential host cities to take part in the joint USA-Canada-Mexico 2026 World Cup bid has been whittled down to 32 after nine more potential venues were ruled out, a statement said Wednesday.
The joint North American bid is seen as the favorite for 2026, with only one other bid — Morocco — so far in the running for the tournament.
A list of 41 potential host cities — in the running to stage matches or host teams — had been circulated last month by organisers.
That number was trimmed down to 32 after nine cities including Cleveland, Pittsburgh, San Antonio and New Orleans were excluded from consideration.
Of the 32 cities left on the long list, 25 are in the United States, four are in Canada and three are in Mexico.
The US-Mexico-Canada World Cup bid will submit between 20-25 venues in its final bid to FIFA, with 12 locations likely to be chosen as host cities for the tournament, which will be the first to use FIFA’s expanded 48-team format.
Cities not hosting games could be chosen as other venues needed for the tournament, such as team base camps.
Bid officials have said 60 of the tournament’s matches would be staged in the United States, with Canada and Mexico hosting 10 games each. The United States will host all knockout games from the quarter-finals onwards.
Stadiums under consideration in the United States include several venues used in the 1994 World Cup, including the Pasadena Rose Bowl.
Other venues include the new Los Angeles Stadium, and the 105,000-capacity AT&T Stadium in Arlington, Texas, home of the Dallas Cowboys.
Former FIFA secretary general Jerome Valcke will be present when the Court of Arbitration hears his appeal over a 10-year ban from football next week, CAS said Thursday.
Valcke “is on the list of participants for the October 11 hearing,” CAS said, adding that the proceedings would kick off at 9:30 am (0730 GMT).
Sepp Blatter’s former righthand man was suspended in September 2015 over a ticket scam at the 2014 World Cup in Brazil and was sentenced by FIFA’s ethics committee in February 2016 to a 12-year ban from football.
The ban was reduced to 10 years on appeal before Valcke, who protests his innocence, appealed to CAS.