Russia World Cup on track but significant work ahead - FIFA
MOSCOW (Reuters) - Preparations for next year's World Cup finals in Russia are on track but lots of work remains to be done, global soccer's governing body FIFA said on Thursday.
"In general the state of readiness is good, planning is good and on track," Colin Smith, FIFA's director of competitions, told reporters.
"There is a significant amount of work to be done, especially in the next two-three months to have all the infrastructure in terms of construction and some of the commissioning works completed by the end of the year."
Russian officials have been positive about the country's progress but concede that work on some venues is behind schedule.
President Vladimir Putin on Tuesday said the overall state of the venues was satisfactory but admitted that delays remained.
Construction on the 45,000-seat stadium in Samara -- which will host six World Cup matches, including a quarter-final -- has been plagued with delays over recent months.
The company building the stadium said in August it was 30 days behind schedule but that they hoped to finish work on the venue by the end of the year, the initial deadline for its completion.
"The contractors, the city, the region, all relevant bodies have indicated that they are able to deliver the stadium by the end of the year," Smith said of Samara.
"That's one of the cases where the timelines are tight and they need to be respected."
Russia showcased four of its 12 World Cup venues during this year's Confederations Cup, a two-week tournament that featured the home country, defending world champions Germany and the champions from FIFA's regional confederations.
Many of the remaining venues, however, are still under construction and have yet to be tested.
Russia is set to host the World Cup from June 14 to July 15 in 12 venues spread across 11 cities including Moscow, St Petersburg, Kazan and Sochi.
(Reporting by Mikhail Antonov and Nikolai Isayev; Writing by Gabrielle TÃ©trault-Farber; Editing by Jack Stubbs and Toby Davis)