World Cup 2018: World Cup to bankrupt Russia say Putin's political opponents

Critics say that they predict costs of the tournament will spiral out of control and the political and social situation in Russia might lead to key sponsors dropping their support

The 2018 World Cup in Russia will leave the country facing bankruptcy, according to opponents of the Russian President Vladimir Putin.

Boris Nemtsov a leading member of  the Republican Party of Russia – People's Freedom Party, the main opposition party to Vladimir Putin’s United Russia, has spoken out against Russia’s decision to spend billions of pounds on hosting the World Cup, saying the costs could be unsustainable for a country already facing the possibility of recession.

In an interview with Reuters journalist Alexei Nikolsky , Nemstov said that Western sanctions over the Ukraine crisis and spiralling costs could both see Russia in a dire financial situation by the end of the tournament.

Boris Nemtsov, political opponent of Vladimir Putin Boris Nemtsov, political opponent of Vladimir Putin

In March, the Ministry gave the figure of just over $18 million as the amount it will cost Russia to pay for football’s biggest tournament.

However, this has already changed, with Russian Prime Minister admitting that this figure could in fact top $20 billion.

Critics feel that this budget will continue to rise, with many citing the Sochi Games as an example of how paying for international sporting events in Russia can often spiral out of control.

Observers will recall that when the bid for the Sochi Winter Olympics was first made in 2007, forecasters predicted that it would only cost organisers $12 billion to host the Games.

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However, as the plans for the Games became more expansive, the cost of organising the Games ballooned to an estimated $51 billion, making it the most expensive in history – almost $35 billion more than London 2012.

And, for some, the same is expected to happen with the 2018 World Cup.

Alisher Aminov, President of the national Fund for the Development of Football and a candidate for the presidency of the Russian FA, has supported this belief.

He told Reuters: "So far the government has allocated 620 billion rubles on the World Cup from the federal budget, but this figure will rise. Will there be transparency? Unfortunately experience from the Winter Olympics in Sochi shows this is unlikely."

Sepp Blatter takes his seat for the World Cup final along with Vladimir Putin Sepp Blatter takes his seat for the World Cup final along with Vladimir Putin

Another fear is that the social and political positions of the Russian government will alienate a number of potential sponsors and this could lead to a major black-hole when it comes to funding for the tournament.

At the Sochi Games corporations such as Coca-Cola were put under pressure to withdraw their sponsorship from the Games due to Russia’s attitudes and policies towards homosexuals.

These corporations did not pull out.

Yet, now with Russia’s unenviable record on gay rights, combined with their position on eastern Ukraine, there could be a chance that these sponsors could leave, meaning an important avenue for Russia to recoup some of the money spent on the World Cup would be severely depleted.

Despite the bleak forebodings from the government’s opposition, the Kremlin remains upbeat that the World Cup in Russia will be a major success.

Russia’s Sports minister Vitaly Mutko said preparations are on track, including financing and construction, with work under way on five stadiums and due to start soon on the last seven.

 

"Our country has a rich history of holding major sports tournaments, and this will be something special," Mutko said.

He also said earlier this week  while speaking to journalists at the World Cup final in Rio, that he did not foresee any “ major issues” when it came to the situation in Ukraine impacted on the Russian World Cup saying that it was “a different subject and one that will not interfere in the preparations for the World Cup at all."

Russian World Cup organisers plan to host the World Cup in 12 stadiums across 11 different cities across Russia’s interior.

This will involve redevelopment of a number of stadiums which will cost the nation billions.

 

Addition reporting Reuters

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