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Work on 2018 World Cup venue halted over dispute

By AFP

Added 15th July 2016 04:23 PM

Construction on the Saint Petersburg stadium, which will be shaped like a spaceship, began in 2007.

Work on 2018 World Cup venue halted over dispute

The Zenit Arena Stadium that is currently under construction

Construction on the Saint Petersburg stadium, which will be shaped like a spaceship, began in 2007.

SAINT PETERSBURG- A dispute with local authorities has frozen building work on one of the venues for the 2018 World Cup in Russia's second city Saint Petersburg, the firm overseeing the construction said Thursday.

Inzhtransstroy-SPB, which is building the new 68,000-seat stadium, said in a statement that local authorities owed it one billion rubles ($16 million) and accused it of withholding 4.3 billion rubles in extra funding.

"Our goal remains the same: we want to complete the stadium (...) by the end of the year," the company said in a statement published on the stadium's website.

"But the city administration is doing everything to derail the completion of the project on time."

The company added that it had sent a letter to the governor of the Saint Petersburg region to "draw his attention" to the issues and inform him of the "de facto suspension" of construction work because of authorities' failure to fulfil their contractual obligations.

The company also accused local officials of resorting to blackmail and fuelling tensions in the dispute.

Inzhtransstroy-SPB had requested an additional 435 million rubles from local authorities earlier this year to compensate for the devaluation of the Russian ruble, which lost around half its value in 2014.

In May, FIFA expressed concern "in relation to several construction matters and highlighted the necessity for tighter project coordination" during a visit of the venue and said that it "will be closely monitoring" its completion.

Construction on the Saint Petersburg stadium, which will be shaped like a spaceship, began in 2007.

The venue, which will host one of the semi-finals of the 2018 World Cup and be home to Zenit Saint Petersburg, is one of the 12 venues that will host matches during the tournament.

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