Fifa confirms draw for World Cup 2018 in Russia will take place in the Kremlin

The draw, in December, underlines the significance of the World Cup to the Russian government

Matt Slater
Monday 23 January 2017 18:57 GMT
Vladimir Putin has placed great importance on the World Cup in 2018
Vladimir Putin has placed great importance on the World Cup in 2018

Fifa has confirmed the draw for the 2018 World Cup is set to take place in the Kremlin on Friday, December 1.

The date was already known but the choice of venue underlines the significance of the World Cup to the Russian government.

A Unesco World Heritage site, the Kremlin is a fortified complex in the heart of Moscow that contains several cathedrals and palaces, one of which is the official residence of Russian President Vladimir Putin.

The draw itself will be staged in the State Kremlin Palace, a building intended to house meetings of the Soviet Union's Communist Party but now used as a concert hall.

In a statement given to Press Association Sport, a Fifa spokesperson said: "Fifa and the local organising committee can confirm that the final draw for the 2018 Fifa World Cup will take place on December 1 in the concert hall of the State Kremlin Palace, in Moscow.

"This prestigious entertainment venue with a capacity of 6,000 spectators has hosted many international and locally renowned artists in the past, as well as traditional ballets and operas."

Fifa's confirmation followed an earlier report from Russia's main news agency Tass that said Russia's deputy prime minister Vitaly Mutko announced the news after a meeting with prime minister Dmitry Medvedev.

The 58-year-old Mutko stepped down as sports minister in October but he was the chairman of Russia's successful World Cup bid and is still the president of the Russian Football Union. He is also a former president of Russia's richest football team, Zenit Saint Petersburg.

"The final draw for the World Cup has been scheduled for December 1, and we have offered the Kremlin as the venue for this event," said Mutko.

"This proposal suited Fifa and we are already in preparations for the draw."

These comments came a day after the Mail on Sunday reported that Fifa president Gianni Infantino last year asked Mutko, a member of the Fifa Council, to quit football because of his alleged involvement in Russia's state-sponsored doping programme.

Mutko, however, has always denied any wrongdoing, blaming others further down the chain of command, and told Tass the British newspaper report was "silly" and remains on good terms with Infantino.

Next Monday, January 30, is the 500-days-to-go milestone for eastern Europe's first World Cup and a Fifa inspection team is visiting Russia at the end of February to check on preparations for this summer's dress rehearsal, the Confederations Cup.

That event, which takes place between June 17 and July 2, will feature Russia, 2014 World Cup winners Germany and the six reigning champions of world football's confederations: Australia, Chile, Mexico, New Zealand, Portugal and the winners of the on-going Africa Cup of Nations.

Russia beat bids from Belgium/Netherlands, England and Portugal/Spain to host the 2018 World Cup at a vote in December 2010.

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