The BBC's Richard Galpin looks at the hurdles Russia faces before hosting the 2018 World Cup. Russia has drawn up an ambitious plan to transform the soccer
facilities in 13 cities in the western part of the country. There are huge distances between potential host cities, many of which are off the beaten track. Saransk, for example, is 400 miles east of
Moscow and there's just one flight a day from the capital on an old propeller plane.
"By 2012 we will completely revamp our transport infrastructure," says the mayor of Saransk, Vladimir Sushkov. "We will rebuild the airport, build a chain of hotels, a new bus station and create conditions for hosting a large number of visitors." Most of the stadiums will be built from scratch. There are also plans to upgrade airports, build high-speed rail links and new hotels. The basic price tag is $6 billion.
Another issue is racism. Haminu Draman from Ghana plays for Moscow club Lokomotiv. "If you play against some clubs that don't have blacks in their team, especially in St. Petersburg, it's crazy," he said. "I think if the other countries like Africa qualify for the World Cup when it's hosted by Russia, I think it's going to be hard for them too, unless these kind of things change here."
Alexei Sorokin, head of the Russian bid committee, said, "We will gradually cope with this problem, we don't see any problem with that."