World Cup stadium delays ‘unacceptable’, Putin warns

Russian President Vladimir Putin yesterday expressed concern over delays to preparations for the 2018 World Cup, warning that delays "are unacceptable".

Russia’s sports minister Pavel Kolobkov had earlier told the presidential council that a backlog of work had been noted at 12 construction sites, AFP reported.

"They are not critical and nothing is awful. But as always, as I have said many times and would like to repeat today, it is hardest to resolve tasks in the final stage," Putin told Russian sport and World Cup officials at the Kremlin.

"If we relax, we will never finish the job," he added. "It is necessary to thoroughly monitor each stage of work every day."

Twelve venues in 11 cities must be ready in eight months, when the global tournament kicks off in June 2018.

Last May football governing body FIFA expressed concerns over two stadiums, St Petersburg Stadium, home of the Zenit football club, and the stadium in Russia’s Baltic enclave of Kaliningrad.

The following August officials sacked the Zenit stadium builder amid delays and claims of deficient quality, but it was ready in time for the FIFA Confederations Cup held in June this year.

Yesterday Putin also warned officials to make sure the stadiums were not just technically finished, but looked nice as well.

"There should not be wastelands, puddles or landfills," he said. "Everything needs to be made comfortable and convenient for people."

The 2018 World Cup will be held at 12 venues in 11 Russian cities: Moscow, Saint Petersburg, Sochi, Kazan, Saransk, Kaliningrad, Volgograd, Rostov-on-Don, Nizhny Novgorod, Yekaterinburg and Samara.

Photograph: Russian President Vladimir Putin is briefed on World Cup preparations on 3 October 2017 at the Kremlin (Kremlin)

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