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Confederations Cup Kicks Off In Russia One Year Ahead Of World Cup


St. Petersburg's Krestovsky Stadium will host matches of the 2018 FIFA World Cup and the 2017 FIFA Confederations Cup.

Russia faces a test of its readiness to host the 2018 World Cup as the Confederations Cup kicks off in St. Petersburg.

The eight-team tournament will put Russia's ability to handle thousands of visiting and home fans under the spotlight.

Security will be a concern over the two weeks in stadiums that have been dogged by construction delays and structural problems.

Next year's World Cup will take place in 12 stadiums spread across 11 cities, including Moscow, St. Petersburg, Kazan, and Sochi, the host cities for the Confederations Cup.

President Vladimir Putin will attend the Group A opening match on June 17 in St. Petersburg's Krestovsky Stadium between Russia and Oceania champions New Zealand.

The Krestovsky Stadium has been mired in scandal, taking over a decade to build at an estimated cost of $800 million, amid allegations of corruption.

Organizers insist the 68,000-seat arena is in top shape.

Russia's preparations for the World Cup were "proceeding well," Putin spokesman Dmitry Peskov said.

"We're completely ready for the tournament," Russian Deputy Prime Minister Vitaly Mutko said. "The infrastructure, hotels, transportation systems -- everything's ready. And we've took the full-scale measures to assure the event's security."

Based on reporting by AFP and dpa
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