Russia to spend big on stadiums after 2018 World Cup

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Russia intends to spend more than €162 million to make sure stadiums built for the World Cup do not go to waste after the showpiece ends.

The hosts are trying to use the football final to revive fan interest in the struggling domestic leagues.

Each of the 11 host cities is either getting a brand new arena or having an existing one refurbished from the ground up.

The idea is to replace cavernous all-purpose stadiums in which supporters are exposed to the sun and snow with modern ones outfitted with the latest amenities.

Vladimir Putin issued an order last October requiring his government to draft a World Cup “legacy” programme that raises club-match attendance and boosts youth player development.

But the question long facing Russia has been how to reap rewards from the massive investment in cities where local clubs play second-tier football.

The cabinet’s proposal reported by state media on Tuesday admits that the government will have to foot the bill in some places until 2023.

“Keeping in mind the high cost of stadium operations and the low expected football club revenues, it is impossible to expect stadium use to be commercially viable in the next 3-5 years,” the government programme says.

The RIA Novosti state news agency said the government wants to assign 16.6 billion rubles ($265 million) to the legacy programme.

Most of that money – $190 million – will come from the federal budget and be assigned to keeping stadiums open in seven of the smaller host cities.

Some of the money will also be spent on training facilities and youth football centres.

Russia admits that it will not turn a profit as host.

But it views the international football extravaganza as a chance to make a long-term investment in a game that has struggled since Soviet times.

It also dearly wants to avoid getting stuck with white elephants, stadiums built for major events that turn into abandoned symbols of mismanagement and excess.

The problem has most recently attracted attention after the 2014 World Cup and 2016 Summer Olympic Games in Brazil.

Provided by AFP Sport

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World Cup 2018: Russia coach Stanislav Cherchesov dreams big before home tournament

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Russia coach Stanislav Cherchesov

Russia’s World Cup coach Stanislav Cherchesov believes the hosts just have to relax and be themselves if they want to win before expectant fans and Vladimir Putin.

The pressure will be on Russia to perform when they open football’s premiere against Saudi Arabia in Moscow on June 14.

Putin has already said he was hoping to see the team lift a seemingly unlikely trophy on home ground. The Russian leader is expected to be in attendance when the first World Cup to reach eastern Europe kicks off.

Cherchesov said on Tuesday that he and his squad also only had victory on their mind.

“We know that we are not the favourites, but this does not mean anything,” he said in a Russian television interview.

“We want to be ourselves and then see whether that will be enough, how far that takes us.”

The Russia coach said players felt dejected after losing to Mexico in the semi-final of last year’s Confederations Cup — a World Cup warmup held in Saint Petersburg and Moscow.

“I have never seen such disappointed football players before,” Cherchesov said of the locker room after the Mexico match.

“We wanted to win the Confederations Cup from the start in order to know the taste of victory.”

Russia are coming off a miserable Euro 2016 in which they were knocked out in the group stage after losing to Wales 3-0 in their third and final game.

Former national squad coach Leonid Slutsky confessed shortly afterwards that he and the players agreed things could not get much worse.

“We all said in one voice: ‘We are s**t’,” Slutsky said.

Cherchesov was asked whether he discussed that game and conversation when he took over the Russia job from Slutsky immediately after the tournament.

“Should the national team players been told that they are ‘s**t’? No,” Cherchesov said.

“To be honest, I do not even know what to say about that. We never had such a conversation.”

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Cristiano Ronaldo has rare off night for Portugal: Seven Deadly Stats from latest round of internationals

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Cristiano Ronaldo's failing to score will always be a shock.

The last international break before this summer’s World Cup in Russia included some stellar fixtures, with Brazil’s 1-0 win over Germany to end the world champions’ 22-game unbeaten streak the pick of the lot.

Elsewhere, there were surprising results and some utterly shocking performances as teams looked to find their groove ahead of the summer.

Here are our Seven Deadly Stats from the latest international break.

IN-FORM RONALDO SILENCED

Nobody could stop Cristiano Ronaldo, at least not since the calendars turned over to 2018. So nobody would have backed a Netherlands team still reeling from their failure to qualify for the World Cup to not only silence the Portugal star but do so this emphatically.

The 3-0 win in Geneva was perhaps the most surprising result of this round of international fixtures. There was more to it than simply shutting down Ronaldo – Netherlands’ attack was unusually prolific – but their shackling of the Real Madrid star was impressive.

ARE PEOPLE SLEEPING ON SPAIN?

It’s not that nobody thinks Spain is a contender, or even one of the favourites. But at the moment Germany and Brazil would get most people’s guesses for who’s lifting the Jules Rimet Trophy in July.

Perhaps it’s because in the last two international tournaments Spain have crashed out despite having a more-hyped side. But their 6-1 win over Argentina was the continuation of some superb form since they were knocked out by Italy at Euro 2016.

Germany and Brazil may be the two likely candidates but Spain would fancy their chances against either in this form.

LUCAS TORREIRA’S PERFECT DEBUT

Lucas Torreira has forced his way into the reckoning for Uruguay with some excellent displays for Sampdoria, and his international debut couldn’t have gone better.

The young holding midfielder delivered a cameo that everything you could ask for from a player at his position, with his distribution completely perfect.

ARE YOU WATCHING, JOSE?

Paul Pogba isn’t in form. That’s what everyone’s been hearing for the last two months.

Someone forgot to tell him. His display against Russia was superb, as he and fellow young star Kylian Mbappe stole the show against this summer’s hosts. A stunning free-kick and a pinpoint through ball to find Mbappe meant Pogba hit a high he’d never hit for his national team before.

VAR HELPS ITALY END DROUGHT

It’s somewhat ironic that after all the VAR controversy in Serie A this season, Italy should benefit from its implementation.

Their penalty against England seemed soft at first and while plenty will still feel that way, replays showed enough evidence that the technology got the call right in calling James Tarkowski for a foul. It helped Italy not only avoid a loss to an experimental side, it helped them end a scoring drought that encompassed nearly four games.

SPAIN’S NEW STAR

Spain has had wispy passers who can find their teammates in just the perfect spot for what seems like forever, and there’s one more to add to that list.

Iago Aspas has been one of the best performers in La Liga over the last two seasons and he showed why Julen Lopetegui trusts him so much. His goalscoring form and ability to find the right pass means Alvaro Morata‘s chances of making the final World Cup are hanging by a thread.

NO MESSI, NO PARTY FOR ARGENTINA

As long as there’s Lionel Messi, there’s a chance for whichever team he’s playing for to win major honours. But Argentina showed just how much they need him on Tuesday.

In fairness the Barcelona man wasn’t the only star name who missed the 6-1 loss to Spain, but there was enough quality to avoid getting humiliated. The way they rolled over was a historic low.

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