Russia’s government has boosted their contribution to the 2018 World Cup budget by 19.1 billion rubles ($325 million U.S.), but they’re not saying why. This also increases the percentage of the overall spending now coming from the government. It flies in the face of previous efforts to cut the event’s costs as well. Here are more details from The Associated Press:
Total spending rises to 638.8 billion rubles ($10.8 billion), with all of the increase coming from federal budget funds, which now make up almost 55 percent of total spending.
The increase dwarfs previous attempts to cut costs by reducing the number of high-end hotels to be built and trimming expenses on other infrastructure.
There was no immediate comment by the World Cup organizing committee on the reason for the increase, which was announced when an updated budget document was published on the government legal database.
It’s interesting that this came just from an updated budget document, rather than any sort of official announcement. You’d think that this might deserve an official statement from someone on the Russia World Cup organizing committee, especially with it seemingly going against the previous cost-cutting plans. However, perhaps those in charge figured the document wouldn’t be found or noticed this quickly. Or perhaps they didn’t realize it was going to be published on a database journalists could access.
The other notable element here is just how much the 2018 World Cup is becoming a Russian government production. There were initially plans for significant private-sector investment and involvement, but those seem to be diminishing. The government seems to be stepping up to foot more and more of the bill, and they may perhaps be taking more and more control in the process.
The document said this money’s going to go to construction and/or refits of World Cup-related facilities without specifying which ones, and that’s certainly believable. Construction overruns are far from a new story with major sporting events regardless of where they’re held.
However, it’s interesting that these costs are rising despite the publicly-stated plans to cut back. It will certainly be worth keeping an eye on this story ahead of the 2018 World Cup, which has already created plenty of controversy. We’ll see how the construction and budget issues go in the next few years.