World Cup 2018 fever is gaining ground in Russia even though the biggest football tournament on the planet is still one year away.
To set the tone going for the most prestigious event in the sport, the hosts are all set to unravel the curtains for the 2017 Confederations Cup, a prelude to the World Cup, starting June 17.
And to prove they are ready for the World Cup itself, construction on the various venues continues and are expected to be on pace just in time for the tournament, which on the other hand, will get going from June 14 to July 15 in 2018.
Spartak Stadium in Moscow, Fisht Stadium in Sochi, the Kazan Arena and Saint Petersburg Stadium will test the country’s preparedness as the venues host matches in the Confederations Cup.
Aside from the four stadiums, also expected to get much attention during the World Cup proper are the Luzhniki Stadium, Ekaterinburg Arena, Volgograd Arena, Rostov-on Don, Mordovoia Arena, Nizhny Novgorod Stadium, Samara Arena and Kaliningrad Stadium.
A new facility is the Luzhniki Stadium which underwent major renovation. Markings of the football pitch at Russia 2018’s main arena have already been painted, and the lines will be painted twice before matches, in both directions.
Ekaterinburg Arena’s foundations are nearly fully laid and workers have started mounting the drainage system.
Organisers expect the preparatory stage will be finished by July after which the turf can be seeded.
Also at present, the stands and facilities inside the venue are being fitted out and utility systems are being put into place. An upgrade on the area surrounding the stadium and is expected to be finished in autumn.
Work is in earnest at Volgograd Stadium as nearly 2,000 people operate on the space that will eventually become the football pitch. The stadium’s protective outer enclosure has also started to take shape, while the light towers around the stadium continue to be built.
Currently, five of the 21 planned 30-metre towers have already been constructed.
At the Rostov-on-Don venue, around 80 per cent of the membrane roof has been placed, while already completed are metal structure of the roof and the concrete work at the construction site.
The inner facility also throbs with activities with works on the ceilings, lifts, escalators, doors, coloured panels, windows and ceramic tiles.
Officials said the layers below the football pitch are 30 per cent complete.
By November, regional authorities expect the first matches to be held at the venue.
Finishing touches are now being applied at the Mordovia Arena as the last block of the round roof has been fitted.
Some 200 construction people work day in, day out to build the structure, which weighs a total of 6,000 tonnes.
Over at the Novgorod Stadium, the football pitch measuring 7,140 square meters are now being put together.
A special geosynthetic fabric will be added to the foundations to improve sustainability and density. Officials also acquired the services of a laboratory in Scotland to test materials to be used for the pitch.
Pyramid-shaped supports will hold up the 32 elements of the roof around the outer perimeter of the stands at the Samara Stadium. They have been completed and expected to follow suit are the interiors of the stadium.
Work at the Kaliningrad Stadium also resume without let-up. Plastering and painting walls or laying tiles are in motion as well as installation of internal electricity, ventilation and heating systems are being installed.
Outside, the stadium’s facade is still being constructed, as workers start building the layers that will make up the football pitch.
From the looks on all angles, it appears all systems are go for Russia as they prepare to showcase their football venues and at the same time extend their hospitality to World Cup fans.