Global football body FIFA warned yesterday that a "huge amount of work" still needs to be done to get the football stadium in Samara ready for the World Cup, which kicks off on in June.
Contractors have just short of three months to get the 45,000-seat venue in the south-western Russian city ready for the Group E match between Costa Rica and Serbia on 17 June, and the pitch has not been laid yet, FIFA inspectors discovered.
Construction at the Samara Arena (also known as the Cosmos Arena), one of 12 World Cup venues, has been hit by a number of setbacks in recent months, putting authorities under extra pressure.
Pictured above in November last year, the stadium is characterised by its 65.5-metre-high dome roof, which is made up of 32 panels; it is expected to cost $370m to build, according to The Stadium Guide.
"Over the course of this project, we have spoken about delays in Samara," FIFA Chief Competitions and Events Officer Colin Smith told reporters at the venue, reports Reuters.
"Those delays are still evident now even though… a lot of progress has been made. There is a huge amount of work to be done."
Russian authorities and the contractor had to give "full support and commitment" if the venue is to be commissioned by the end of April, as had been planned, Smith said.
"We would expect further progress than this," Smith said. "But what’s important to us is that the stadium is commissioned on time, then we have the use of the stadium and we can install all our temporary overlay and equipment that we need for the World Cup."
According to Reuters, Alexei Sorokin, the chief executive of the local organising committee, gave assurances that the work on the venue would be completed by the end of April.
The stadium will host four group-stage matches, including Russia’s showdown with Uruguay, a last-16 tie and a quarter-final.
In October last year Russian President Vladimir Putin expressed concern over delays to preparations for the tournament, warning that delays "are unacceptable", after Russia’s sports minister Pavel Kolobkov told the presidential council that a backlog of work had been noted at all 12 construction sites.
Russia will host the World Cup at 12 venues spread across 11 cities including Moscow, St Petersburg, Kazan and Sochi.
Image: Samara Arena as of November 2017 (Wikimedia Commons)
- Edited 23 March to correct the geographical location of Samara