The World Cup doesn’t take place until 2018 and Russia is already hanging out the “no vacancy” signs.
Russia's sports minister, Vitaly Mutko, says a lack of hotel accommodations for teams and officials is a major problem facing 2018 World Cup organizers.
According to an Associated Press report picked up by Travel Weekly, Mutko says that "the most severe problem is related to accommodating guests of the World Cup, with the hotels," in comments reported by Russian agency Tass.
He added that four of the 11 host cities (Volgograd, Rostov-on-Don, Saransk and Nizhny Novgorod) are behind on plans to increase hotel accommodations in time for the tournament.
The issue concerns hotels for players, sponsors and FIFA officials, according to Mutko, but Russia's readiness to house fans has also been called into question. In December, Russia's Federal Tourism Agency said only five of the 11 cities so far had enough accommodations for supporters.
Yahoo! News reported back in June that Russia had posted cuts of over $500 million from its official budget for the 2018 World Cup after cutting spending on hotels and infrastructure. Mutko noted the government had decided to slash the number of luxury hotels, warning they could lay fallow after the tournament. Various projects to improve drainage were also removed from spending plans.
Which means the area could be muddy, as well as overrun with tourists.
Russia managed to reach a deal with FIFA to cut the number of training bases provided for the teams from 48 to 36, or three per stadium, Mutko added.
''With FIFA, we were able to optimize the list of hotels and bases for hosting national teams,'' he said.
It was not immediately clear which training bases would be cut. A preliminary list of training bases raised eyebrows earlier this year after it included locations in the volatile regions of Chechnya and Dagestan, where Islamist insurgents operate. Russian World Cup organizers have said the areas are safe and would be well secured during the tournament.
More than half of the total budget will be funded by the federal government, which is providing 335 billion rubles ($6.25 billion). Other funding sources include regional governments, state-run companies and private investors.
But those who hope to see the World Cup in 2018 might not be totally out of luck. At the 2014 World Cup in Brazil, the sharing economy company Airbnb was able to unlock rooms to meet the burgeoning need of tourism when the hotel supply fell short. A quick check of Airbnb’s website showed there are operators in Russia.