Russia prepares laws for 2018 World Cup
Russian lawmakers will begin enacting laws early next year to protect the rights of FIFA and its sponsors at the 2018 World Cup, tournament organizers said Tuesday.
FIFA requires host nations to pass a raft of new laws, including to guarantee tax exemptions and criminalize ambush marketing. The governing body gets about 90 percent of its billion-dollar annual revenue from the World Cup.
Sports minister Vitaly Mutko, a FIFA executive committee member, said the ''FIFA World Cup law'' would be presented to Russia's State Duma parliament ''in the first quarter of 2012.''
''I would once again confirm the Russian government's commitment to fulfill all government guarantees in preparation for the tournament,'' Mutko said after the first formal meeting of organizers and FIFA officials in Moscow.
Support from Prime Minister Vladimir Putin was considered crucial in Russia's winning bid for the World Cup last year. Russia defeated England and joint bids from Spain-Portugal and Netherlands-Belgium in a 22-man vote of FIFA's ruling panel.
Russia's promises contrast with that of 2014 host Brazil, where lawmakers are objecting to the government becoming ''subservient'' to FIFA.
Brazil President Dilma Rousseff met with FIFA secretary general Jerome Valcke last week in Brussels to improve relations which have also become strained over the slow pace of upgrading stadiums, airports and other key infrastructure projects.
After a two-day visit to Moscow, Valcke spoke of ''amazing'' enthusiasm and a ''real partnership'' with Russia, which has seven years to finish a comprehensive construction plan costing tens of billions of dollars.
''For some people it might seem too much in advance, but we've learned from (2010 host) South Africa and Brazil that we need the time to prepare. There's a lot of things to be done in Russia,'' Valcke said.
''You can be sure that the European fans will be coming here in 2018. You need transport, accommodation, and need to make sure the fans can follow their teams. Now we have to work and make it happen.''
Mutko said organizers plan to select 12 stadiums in 11 host cities by next September. The bid proposed a choice of 15 stadiums in 13 cities, including the western exclave of Kaliningrad and Yekaterinburg as the most easterly venue.
''We are happy with two stadiums in Moscow but I don't want to isolate any city, they all have equal opportunities,'' said Mutko, who is chairing the Russian organizing team.
The Luzhniki stadium in Moscow, main venue for the 1980 Summer Olympics and which hosted the 2008 Champions League final, is being upgraded to host the World Cup final. Moscow clubs Dynamo and Spartak are in a race to build their new stadiums and be named the capital city's second venue.
Mutko dismissed suggestions that the tournament would leave white elephants.
''We are not going to build a 40-50,000-seat stadium in Saransk so that then (after the World Cup) it will be idling,'' Mutko said. ''It will be a 25-27,000-seat stadium. Every city will get a stadium which will be profitable economically. We will pay special attention to it.''
Mutko also dismissed claims that upgrading the Luzhniki stadium could cost 40 billion rubles ($1.3 billion), saying that ''it would be easier to pull it down and build a new Wembley here'' at that price. He didn't say how much the reconstruction will cost.