MOSCOW - Russia will have to almost double the projected budget to host the World Cup in 2018, the country’s top sports official said Sunday.
The new 600 billion ruble ($19.2 billion) preliminary budget, announced by Russian Sports Minister Vitaly Mutko, is almost twice the sum projected by then-Prime Minister Vladimir Putin when Russia was awarded the World Cup in December 2010.
"These are not the final numbers," Mutko said at a joint press conference with FIFA President Sepp Blatter a day after 12 host cities were finalized by FIFA and announced late Saturday.
"We can call the figures a rough estimate," Mutko said. "It is what is required to do everything necessary so we can stage a high-quality championships in Russia."
About 40 per cent of the money will be spent to construct or refurbish 12 stadiums required for the tournament. The rest of the budget will be spent on upgrades to transport and hospitality infrastructure in the 11 host cities.
Five arenas are already under construction and four more stadium projects are to be started before the new year.
The costs are expected to be split evenly between the public and private sectors, Mutko said.
"Not one city is ready today," said Mutko. "Not even Moscow."
But he stressed that "most of the expenses are already covered by numerous federal programs."
"We may speak about corrections and readdressing programs to the host regions. But we are facing serious and tough work ahead," he said.
Mutko added that finalizing the list of host cities a year ahead of schedule "gives us a chance to begin programs and projects for the World Cup much earlier."
Blatter said that never in his presidency has a host nation been so far ahead of schedule in preparation for a tournament.
"We are in a very comfortable situation when it comes to the organization of the World Cup 2018," Blatter said. "We are one year ahead of our schedule and this is a new approach to organizing world cups."
Russia beat a bid from England and two joint bids — from Portugal-Spain and Belgium-Netherlands — to host the 2018 World Cup.