FIFA Satisfied with Progress on Sochi World Cup Venue

(ATR) Sochi Olympic stadium passed a FIFA inspection checking on Russian World Cup venues.

SOCHI, RUSSIA - MARCH 05:  A general view of the Fisht Olympic Stadium is pictured on March 5, 2014 in Sochi, Russia ahead of the Sochi 2014 Paralympic Games in Sochi, Russia.  (Photo by Dennis Grombkowski/Getty Images)
SOCHI, RUSSIA - MARCH 05: A general view of the Fisht Olympic Stadium is pictured on March 5, 2014 in Sochi, Russia ahead of the Sochi 2014 Paralympic Games in Sochi, Russia. (Photo by Dennis Grombkowski/Getty Images)

(ATR) Sochi Olympic stadium passed a FIFA inspection checking on Russian World Cup venues.

The Fisht Stadium in the Black Sea resort, which hosted February’s Winter Games, was visited by a FIFA delegation on Saturday.

FIFA inspection committee head Christian Unger expressed confidence in Russian football authorities, who are behind the conversion of the venue to a multi-sport venue fit to host World Cup games in four years’ time.

"Fisht arena, which has already hosted the major sporting event – Winter Olympics, is unique in its own way, like any other stadium in Russia that we’ve already visited," Unger was quoted by AFP as telling media. "But the stadium needs some adaptation for hosting the World Cup."

For the FIFA World Cup, the Olympic Park venue will be reduced to around 48,000 seats.

A joint delegation of FIFA officials and Russia 2018 organizing committee representatives are visiting some of the 12 stadiums in 11 host cities from Oct. 16-23.

The inspection team includes 40 experts from FIFA, Russia 2018 and Arena-2018, an expert group created for the World Cup, in areas such as stadium design, security, transport, logistics, hospitality services, broadcasting and media operations.

Over the past two days, the evaluation commission visited two Moscow venues – Luzhniki Stadium, venue for the 1980 Olympic ceremonies and athletics competition, and Otkritie Arena, which opened in September with a Spartak FC game.

Luzhniki is undergoing a massive revamp for the World Cup; it will be the 80,000-capacity host of the showpiece final.

"It’s our first visit to Russia and we’re happy with the results for the moment," Unger told reporters. "But we would like to see positive changes in our every new visit here."

The inspectors will be updated on progress at the other stadiums with a virtual tour of the cities and venues from Oct. 21-23.

In the past 18 months, FIFA has expressed concerns about the number of venues. There was speculation that two cities might be cut until Russian president Vladimir Putin said in August that the 12 stadiums in 11 cities would remain unchanged.

Reported by Mark Bisson

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