Putin attends opening of Spartak's new arena

AFP
Russian President Vladimir Putin talks to young football players during a visit to Spartak's stadium Otkritye Arena in Moscow, on August 27, 2014
Russian President Vladimir Putin talks to young football players during a visit to Spartak's stadium Otkritye Arena in Moscow, on August 27, 2014 (AFP Photo/Sergei Karpukhin)

Moscow (AFP) - Russian president Vladimir Putin on Wednesday attended the inauguration of Spartak Moscow's 2018 World Cup stadium.

"This arena is worthy of Russia's most beloved team," Putin said on arrival at the brand new 42,000-seat Otkrytie arena which will also host FIFA Confederations Cup matches in 2017.

"Construction of such modern venues are set to give an impulse to the development of the entire country," Putin added.

He expressed his hope that work on the 70,000-seat Gazprom arena in Saint Petersburg will proceed swiftly.

"Hopefully, they will manage to keep up the pace of their work until" completion, Putin said during a video conference with the other 2018 World Cup venues.

Work on the 14.5-billion-ruble ($400-million, 300-million-euro) Spartak Otkrytie arena started in 2010 and was financed by the club's private owners.

The Otkrytie arena is Spartak's first ever home ground. The club previously played their matches at other Moscow venues.

The stadium is the second 2018 World Cup venue to go into service after a 45,000-seat venue in Kazan hosted its first match this month.

The Gazprom arena in Saint Petersburg is expected to be ready in May 2016, while Sochi's Olympic Fisht stadium will soon finish modifications to increase its capacity to 45,000 seats.

Moscow's iconic Luzhniki arena, which was built in 1956 and has hosted the 1980 Olympics, the 2008 Champions League final and 2013 World Athletics Championships, is being transformed into a 81,000-seat stadium fit to host the opening and final matches.

Construction of the other 2018 World Cup venues will soon start from scratch.