MOSCOW, August 6 (R-Sport) – Football’s world governing body FIFA has allowed Moscow to reduce the seating capacity of Luzhniki Stadium to 81,000 for the 2018 World Cup games to be held in the Russian capital, a City Hall official said Tuesday.
Plans already approved by FIFA had envisaged 89,000 seated places at the cavernous arena, which is closing for refurbishment after the world athletics championships starting Saturday.
That is the current official capacity of the stadium, but as thousands of those places have restricted views in the first few rows, reaching that capacity to conform to FIFA standards would require the arena be demolished and rebuilt from scratch, which is seen as too expensive.
Instead, FIFA's concession allows the stadium to undergo minimal refurbishment.
"This means that Luzhniki will be saved," said the city's acting deputy mayor, Marat Khusnullin, regarding FIFA's decision.
Luzhniki Stadium was built in 1956 and refurbished for the 1980 Summer Olympics.
It currently falls short of FIFA's requirements for spectator comforts, capacity, hospitality, and media facilities. Luzhniki is one of 12 existing or planned stadiums in 11 cities to be used for the World Cup.
Russia beat competition from England, and joint bids from Spain/Portgual and Belgium/Netherlands to stage the event.