By James Crook

sport-012March 15 - Russia's Government have warned that they will not spend extra money from the Federal budget on infrastructure improvements for the 2018 FIFA World Cup, leaving regional authorities with the burden of financing other improvement projects.

First Deputy Prime Minister Igor Shuvalov referred to the 540 billion roubles ($18 billion/£12 billion/€14 billion) demanded by regional authorities as overblown, despite the initial estimates by the Sports Ministry coming out at around double that figure.

The Government met to discuss the cost of hosting the World Cup this week, deciding that only the building of stadiums and training facilities, as well as upgrades to airports and other transport links that they are obliged to make as part of the deal to host the tournament in five years time, meaning that regional authorities will have to stump up for their own city improvement projects, such as transport systems and general infrastructure.

"We're not going to finance this from theFederal budget, that's what the regional programmes for health and housing are for," said Shuvalov.

176017254Plans for improvements for the city of Saransk, which may be hindered by the announcement that the Russian Government will not spend any more than necessary on infrastructure for the 2018 FIFA World Cup

According to Shuvalov, regions have requested additional funds to make large-scale general improvements from refurbishing sewer systems to building public fountains, but Russia will only fund the projects that they are obligated to complete with money from the Federal budget.

A spokesman for the First Deputy Prime Minister said that it was too early to produce a figure of how much hosting the World Cup would cost, and that the financial plan will have to be approved by Prime Minister Vladimir Putin.

The cities of Moscow, Sochi, Kazan, Saint Petersburg, Kaliningrad, Nizhny Novgorod, Rostov-on-Don, Krasnodar, Samara, Saransk, Volgograd, Yaroslavl and Yekaterinburg will host FIFA World Cup matches, which will take place over June and July 2018.

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