September 2016 sees the programme of visits to 2018 FIFA World Cup Russia™ stadiums reach one more milestone, with a delegation of FIFA and Russia 2018 Local Organising Committee experts currently conducting a fourth operational planning tour. Already on this latest tour, which is taking place between 7 and 16 September, representatives of the joint team have visited five of the 12 arenas to be used for the upcoming tournament.

The operational planning tour started in Moscow with a visit to the Luzhniki Stadium, which will host the FIFA World Cup opening and final matches. The delegation then moved on to Saransk, the smallest Host City, Rostov-on-Don, Saint Petersburg and Kaliningrad. The visit’s key objective was to assess the functional compliance of all elements with the requirements of a match day of the FIFA World Cup.

“Overall it’s been a good tour,” said FIFA’s Competitions and Events Chief Officer, Colin Smith. “We have looked at the stadiums, obviously, the construction status, the functional area flows for all key stakeholders and how they interact. We have also had a chance to review the cities preparations as a whole and address some of the open questions with city and regional authorities. To host a FIFA World Cup match is like a jigsaw puzzle – each piece is important but everything needs to fit together. So we need to make sure that we have got the issues tracked and that the schedule is well-known by all parties involved.”   

To host a FIFA World Cup match is like a jigsaw puzzle – each piece is important but everything needs to fit together.

FIFA’s Competitions and Events Chief Officer, Colin Smith

The results of the stadium tour were summed up in Moscow, where Smith and Alexey Sorokin, CEO of the Russia 2018 Local Organising Committee, met with Vitaly Mutko, LOC Chairman and Russian Minister of Sport.

“It was good to see that everyone involved in the operational tour was positive about what they saw,” commented Mutko. “There are no critical issues that cannot be resolved. We know what we need to do to host the World Cup at a high level and we will do everything we can be ready for kick-off,” he added.

The experts will remain in Kaliningrad, the western-most Host City until 16 September to discuss preparations of the remaining seven arenas with Host City representatives through so-called “virtual tours”. As is customary, the delegation includes experts in football matters, arena design, event preparation and hosting, security, transportation, logistics, hospitality, broadcasting, media operations, ICT, marketing and ticketing programmes, as well as representatives of relevant federal ministries and departments involved in preparations for the tournament.

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