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Sports

Russia slashes 2018 World Cup budget

Russia has decided to trim back on an already expensive 2018 World Cup budget. A decison was made on Monday to substanially reduce the amount of planned spending on hotels and infrastructure.

In Russia's latest World Cup change of plan, the country has slashed over 450 million euros ($500 million) from its official 2018 World Cup budget.

An order signed by Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev published on Monday revealed the tournament costs were to be reduced by cutting spending on hotels and infrastructure, taking the overall expected cost to 10.3 billion euros. Experts still believe, much like the Winter Olympics in Sochi, the tournament will cost more than predicted.

Sports Minister Vitaly Mutko revealed in April that the government had decided to cut back on the number of luxury hotels, warning they could lie empty after the tournament. Various projects to improve drainage were also removed from spending plans, but Mutko said the budgets for the stadiums had been left intact.

"We're optimizing and cutting expenses," Mutko told Russian news agency R-Sport.

The government is curbing most areas of public spending as the price of oil stays low and the Russian Ruble weak. Nevertheless, the federal government is providing 5.5 billion euros, while other funding sources include regional governments, state-run companies and private investors.

Russia has also reached a deal with FIFA to cut the number of team training bases from 48 to 36, or three per stadium, Mutko said. Exactly which training bases remains unclear, although the bases planned in the volatile regions of Chechnya and Dagestan, where Islamist insurgents operate, look favorite to be dropped.

Russia's economy has struggled over the past year, largely as a result of the economic sanctions imposed by Western countries because of the conflict in Ukraine. The EU agreed to extend its sanctions by a further six months at a Monday meeting in Luxembourg.

jh/msh (AP, dpa)

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