The Russian government has outlined plans to slash up to 27 billion rubles (€409.1m/$432.7m) from its budget for the 2018 Fifa World Cup by scaling back development plans for luxury hotels to cater for the national team football tournament.
A draft decree outlines the scrapping of 25 new hotels across the 11 host cities, the relocation of 14 others to new sites and a further nine to be downgraded. Sports Minister and Russia 2018 chairman Vitaly Mutko (pictured) told the TASS news agency: “We have agreed with Fifa that we will be following its minimal requirements concerning each region’s accommodation of national teams, referee squads, the so-called representatives of Fifa family, Fifa guests, accredited journalists and so on.
“We do not need fashionable hotels, constructed to Fifa’s highest requirements, to stay empty after the championship. Considering the minimal requirements of the organisation we have worked out programs of Fifa groups’ accommodation with each region and will be correspondingly reducing the costs.”
However, Mutko stressed that the cuts will not affect the country’s accommodation capacity for football fans travelling to the tournament. As the hotels were to have been funded by regional governments or by companies, Mutko added the savings will not reduce spending commitments by the federal government on the World Cup.
The total budget of 664.1 billion rubles for the organisation of the 2018 World Cup was announced in 2012. Based on that year’s exchange rate, this figure stood at $20.5bn – a mark that has now dropped to $12.1bn. The hotel plan marks the latest cost-cutting measure embarked upon by the Russian government, which is implementing cuts of 10 per cent to federal spending this year, excluding infrastructure projects for the World Cup.
Earlier this year, the number of initially planned 48 pre-tournament training facilities across Russia was reduced to 37. Meanwhile, the seating capacities of the Baltika Stadium in Kaliningrad and the Central Stadium Yekaterinburg were downsized to 35,000 from their initial 45,000 specification.