Putin says Russia's World Cup stadiums should remain soccer venues
Russia hosted the World Cup in 11 cities in June and July without any major security or discriminatory incidents, receiving praise from fans and global soccer governing body FIFA.
The country's efforts are now turning to ensure that the venues and infrastructure built for the month-long tournament do not fall into disuse.
Speaking at a meeting of government and sports officials at the World Cup stadium in Kaliningrad, Putin said the government would financially support World Cup venues for another five years to ensure that they can operate independently by 2024.
"You mention exhibitions, concerts, tourism and a commercial space. That's alright, the stadium needs to be full," Putin told Kaliningrad governor Anton Alikhanov about the region's plans for the stadium's use after the World Cup.
"But ideally we need to strive for every stadium to have a team and every team to have a stadium. Otherwise it will not be a stadium. It will be a concert hall."
Out of the 12 stadiums used at the World Cup, only six were fully new and commissioned for the tournament, while others were renovated or being built anyway. Six of the 12 stadiums are home to Russian Premier League clubs and there are plans to make another into the national soccer stadium.
Kaliningrad, a Russian exclave wedged between Lithuania and Poland, has a new 35,000-seat stadium but its local soccer team play in Russia's second tier.
"This needs to be concrete and not only general wishes," Putin warned.
Putin said that Russia was interested in expanding the use of the fan-ID, a document that was mandatory to attend World Cup matches and showed its holder had been vetted and approved by the Russian authorities. It also allowed foreign fans to enter Russia without a visa.
The CEO of Russia's World Cup local organising committee, Alexei Sorokin, said the tournament had given a boost to local business, with tourists spending some 100 billion roubles ($1.6 billion) in the country.
(This story has not been edited by Devdiscourse staff and is auto-generated from a syndicated feed.)
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