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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

Officials: Euro 2008 Bid on Track

Russia is bidding to become the first East European country to stage a major international soccer competition, and officials are confident they stand a good chance of success despite serious post-Soviet security issues.

The Russians say they will have eight first-class stadiums in eight different cities across central and southern regions ready to host Euro 2008.

Although officials acknowledge that all the stadiums except Moscow's Luzhniki and Lokomotiv exist only on paper, they have promised that construction will be finished on time.

"Awarding the European Championship to Russia will provide a huge boost not only for our soccer infrastructure but for the country's economy as a whole," said Vladimir Radionov, secretary general of the Russian Football Union.

"It will be a great motivational factor for all of us to build first-class stadiums, hotels, airports, etc. not only in Moscow but in seven other Russian cities as well.

"It will create hundreds of thousands of jobs, bring in enormous financial benefits into the country and will improve the whole infrastructure of our cities," he said.

"And the aftereffects from Euro 2008 will not only benefit those eight cities, but will be felt in Siberia, the Urals, Russia's Far East -- all over the country."

Russia's bid director Alexander Chernov added: "We're confident that we can sell out every single game, starting from the group matches all the way to the final."

The plan calls for the 84,000-seat Luzhniki Stadium to host the opening game, one of the semifinals and the final, with St. Petersburg's Kirov Stadium to stage another semifinal.

Luzhniki, given a five-star rating by UEFA three years ago, has hosted a number of major sporting events, including the 1980 Olympic soccer final and the 1999 UEFA Cup final.

Russia's Euro 2008 campaign, however, got to a rocky start 12 months ago when the RFU chiefs first gave up on the idea of bidding for the championship after failing to secure financial guarantees from the government at the first attempt.

But earlier this year, the Russian parliament finally approved a bill with 258 votes out of 450 in favor of the bid.

Experts estimate the project would cost Russian taxpayers at least 1.3 billion euros to stage the 16-team competition, but Chernov said they expect the tournament to generate over 70 million euros in profits.

"The bid from the two Alpine countries remains our biggest worry." RFU president Vyacheslav Koloskov said referring to the joint bid from Austria and Switzerland as the main threat:

The Russians also acknowledge that security has become a major concern following events just over a month ago.

UEFA President Lennart Johansson has underlined security as a major issue in the bidding process, referring to serious crowd trouble before and after last month's UEFA Cup tie between Turkey's Fenerbahce and Panathinaikos of Greece and the Moscow siege.

"There was also this terrible hostage drama in Moscow. That will also be taken into consideration for the final decision," Johansson was quoted as saying in Swiss-French newspaper Le Dimanche last month.

The Swede, however, later denied making such remarks and was quick to assure bidding nations that all the bids would be treated equally.

"Contrary to recent media reports, all bids for hosting of Euro 2008 will have the same chance of success when the final decision is made," he said in a statement from UEFA headquarters in Nyon, Switzerland.

No matter what has been said, Russian soccer chiefs remain confident about their country's chances.

"No country is immune from terrorists," former Russian Prime Minister Sergei Stepashin, who heads the country's coordinating committee for Euro 2008, was quoted as saying by local media.

"The main thing is that we must learn our lessons and prevent such threats in the future."

"We have an 80 percent chance of hosting the European championship in 2008," added Koloskov after meeting with Johansson last month.

"Our main task is to show the members of the UEFA executive committee that Russia are very capable of hosting the event."