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Putin Says Preparations For 2018 World Cup On Track Despite Delays

Russian President Vladimir Putin (second left), Deputy Prime Minister Vitaly Mutko (left) and St. Petersburg's Mayor Georgy Poltavchenko (right) visit an exhibition dedicated to the infrastructure of host cities for the 2018 FIFA World Cup in Moscow on October 3.

President Vladimir Putin has expressed satisfaction about Russia’s progress in preparing for soccer's 2018 World Cup, but said construction work on some of the venues remained behind schedule.

Putin made the comments in Moscow on October 3 during a meeting with sports officials, regional governors, and athletes to discuss preparations for the tournament.

"These delays are not critical, there is nothing terrible there, but as I have always is the most difficult thing to resolve tasks at a final stage," he said.

"If we [allow ourselves to] relax, we will not fully accomplish the work," Putin added.

Russia has pumped billions of dollars into stadiums and other infrastructure ahead of the World Cup, the world's main soccer tournament, which will take place in June-July 2018 in 11 Russian cities including Moscow, St. Petersburg, Kazan, and Sochi.

The country showcased some of the venues during the Confederations Cup, which was held this summer in four Russian cities, but many others are still under construction.

Sports Minister Pavel Kolobkov said at the October 3 meeting that the 45,000-seat World Cup stadium in Samara remained behind schedule, adding that the company building the venue had been fined.

Meanwhile, the governor of the Kaliningrad region, Anton Alikhanov, asked Putin to ensure that some regions receive state support to maintain the venues after the World Cup.

"For Kaliningrad, where there is no Premier League team for now, handling a 35,000-seat stadium is quite difficult," Alikhanov said.

With reporting by Reuters, AFP, and Interfax
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