Putin outlines visa waiver plans for 2018 World Cup
20 Jan 2012
Russian Prime Minister Vladimir Putin has announced that the country will allow visa-free travel for fans at the 2018 FIFA World Cup.
Putin was speaking on Thursday during the centenary celebrations of the Russian Football Union (RFU) in Saint-Petersburg – an event that was also attended by FIFA president Sepp Blatter and UEFA counterpart Michel Platini. The staging of the World Cup across such a huge nation has already caused concerns amongst critics, but Putin added the Russian government is seeking to ease travel logistics for visitors to the country.
“Russia has decided to let in all the fans for the 2018 World Cup if they have tickets,” said Putin, according to AFP. “What’s more, we are even considering the option of letting fans use their tickets to travel between host cities for free.” Platini added UEFA is also considering a visa-waiver system for this summer’s European Championships in Poland and Ukraine. “The problem with entry visas is a political problem,” said Platini. “We need an agreement between Ukraine and Poland so that there are no difficulties for the fans.”
In other news, Putin has stepped in to attempt to save beleaguered Premier League club Tom Tomsk, which is currently facing bankruptcy. The Siberian club lies bottom of the Premier League and faces a bleak future after the regional authorities confirmed in November that they would withdraw their financial backing. Major sponsors such as Gazprom, Rosneft, Transneft and Allianz had previously cut their ties with Tom Tomsk and Putin has stated he is ready to put pressure on local companies to support the club. “I’m ready to give the order, or a request. I can’t force them as they’re public companies, but I can ask the companies in the region to invest in the club,” he said, according to RIA Novosti. “We need (the companies) to control the financial side and other things not directly associated with sporting activities, such as the financial-material side of the functioning of the club.”