Aidoghie Paulinus, Abuja A delegation from the Japanese Parliament has visited Nigeria to assess the level of cooperation between the two countries, most importantly, through the Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA) and the Official Development Assistance (ODA). Minister of Foreign Affairs, Geoffrey Onyeama, according to spokesperson, Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Tope Ade Elias-Fatile received the…
• Here’s everything you need to know about all the Russia 2018 venues
MOSCOW – Luzhniki Stadium
Capacity: 81,000 Opened: 2017 (rebuilt original stadium, open 1955-2013) Team: Russia national team
Group A, 14 June; Group F, 17 June; Group B, 20 June; Group C, 26 June; Round of 16, 1 July; Semi-final, 11 July; Final, 15 July.
The centrepiece stadium for this World Cup, the Russian authorities tore down the old Luzhniki Stadium in 2013 and have rebuilt a new 81,000-capacity ground while trying to preserve the historical facade and architecture of the old one.
The former ground hosted the 1980 Olympic Games, the 2008 Champions League final, which saw Manchester United defeat Chelsea on penalties, and also the 2013 World Athletics Championships.
In terms of travelling from the team base in Repino, it’s a 763km trip or a relatively short flight time of one hour 15 minutes, which isn’t too inconvenient.
For the travelling fans, Moscow will be one of the most attractive and easy-to-reach destinations.
The capital is absolutely majestic in terms of history, architecture and culture, with Red Square, the Kremlin, Gorky Park and St Basil’s Cathedral no doubt on the sightseeing list of most World Cup visitors.
MOSCOW – Spartak Stadium
Capacity: 45,360 Opened: 2014 Team: Spartak Moscow and some Russia games
Group D, 16 June; Group H, 19 June; Group G, 23 June; Group E, 27 June; Round of 16, 3 July.
Also in Moscow, the Spartak Stadium (or Otkrytiye Arena for sponsorship reasons) will be hosting five matches during the early part of the tournament.
The home of Spartak Moscow has only been standing a few years after quite a long-winded construction process that saw the plans redrafted a few times.
It opened in September 2014 and beat the building of CSKA Moscow’s VTB Arena, which was originally intended to be a World Cup venue.
The exterior is certainly impressive, with hundreds of little diamonds in red and white making up the Spartak club crest. However, these colours can be changed depending on who is playing there, rather like Munich’s Allianz Arena.
SAINT PETERSBURG – Krestovsky Stadium
Capacity: 64,287 Opened: 2017 Team: Zenit St Petersburg
Group B, 15 June; Group A, 19 June; Group E, 22 June; Group D, 26 June; Round of 16, 3 July; Semi-final, 10 July; Third place play-off, 14 July.
It was designed to look as though a spaceship had landed on the shores of the Gulf of Finland and, to be fair, now completed it does fit that description.
What Vladimir Putin and the World Cup organisers won’t tell you is that the whole project has been an unmitigated shambles from start to finish.
The Krestovsky, named after the island on which it is built, was supposed to be ready in December 2008 but actually opened nine years late and 548 per cent over budget.
It is reportedly the most expensive stadium in the world at $1.5billion (£1.14bn) and it may well have been cheaper to build an actual spaceship.
Local side Zenit finally moved in back in April and it was the scene of Germany’s triumph over Chile in the FIFA Confederations Cup in July.
For visitors, Saint Petersburg is very attractive indeed with stunning architecture to gawp at and plenty of history to discover.
Capacity: 35,212 Opened: Under construction Team: Baltika Kaliningrad
Group D, 16 June; Group E, 22 June; Group B, 25 June; Group G, 28 June.
Kaliningrad is the only venue that is separate to mainland Russia, for the city is located in an enclave situated between Poland and Lithuania. The city is actually slightly further west than Warsaw and was heavily militarised for much of its history. And that’s where England will take on Belgium on June 28.
The finishing touches are being applied to the stadium, which will need a few test events before the World Cup starts.
The local club Baltika, who play in Russia’s second tier, will move there after the tournament and the capacity will be reduced from just over 35,000 to around 25,000.
The Lonely Planet write-up of Kaliningrad doesn’t exactly sell it: ‘It carries more than a whiff of its days as an outpost of the USSR… [with] vast swaths of brutal Stalin-stamped buildings and unmistakably Soviet monuments.’
Great news for football fans who also enjoy their Soviet history, but there are most pleasant aspects such as nice parks and attractions such as the Museum of the World Ocean which has a big sperm whale skeleton.
Capacity: 45,379 Opened: 2013 Team: Rubin Kazan
Group C, 16 June; Group B, 20 June; Group H, 24 June; Group F, 27 June; Round of 16, 30 June; Quarter-final, 6 July.
The city of Kazan hired the same architects behind Wembley Stadium and the Emirates Stadium to build their new venue, which has been open four years already.
Apparently, when viewed from above, it is meant to resemble a water lily, a reference to the adjacent Kazanka River.
The stadium has the largest outside video screen in Europe, stretching right along one side of the venue, meaning fans can watch stuff as they walk up to the arena.
Russian Premier League club Rubin Kazan have been tenants since August 2013 and a swimming pool was built next door for the 2015 World Aquatics Championships.
Fans will again have to change in Moscow and be prepared for the long-haul, but once there they will find a strange mix of European and Asian customs and cultures.
The multi-coloured domes and minarets of the churches and mosques here are beautiful and the city boasts a history 150 years older than that of Moscow.
The unusual Soviet Lifestyle Museum is an insight into everyday life behind the Iron Curtain.
Nizhny Novgorod Stadium
Capacity: 44,899 Opened: Under construction Team: Olimpiyets Nizhny Novgorod
Group F, 18 June; Group D, 21 June; Group G, 24 June; Group E, 27 June; Round of 16, 1 July; Quarter-final, 6 July.
Located mid-way between Moscow and Kazan, the newly-built stadium in Nizhny Novgorod is hosting two matches in the knockout stage as well as four in the group, including England against panama on June 24.
Construction should be finished this year but there was a setback in October when a fire broke out after a welding spark ignited some polystyrene debris.
The organisers insist the fire won’t affect construction schedules.
Situated at the confluence of the Volga and Oka rivers, the stadium’s design is meant to be inspired by the region’s natural aspects – water and wind.
It is located slap bang in the city centre, offering views of the 16th-century Kremlin building and the Alexander Nevsky cathedral, the two main tourist attractions.
That bodes well for day-trippers and it is an hour’s flight from Moscow, so not too arduous for travelling fans. For the team, the flight time will be just under two hours.
Local side Olimpiyets, recently promoted into the Russian second division will move into the stadium after the tournament.
SAMARA – Cosmos Arena
Capacity: 44,918 Opened: Under construction Team: Kylia Sovetov
Group E, 17 June; Group A, 19 June; Group C, 21 June; Group A, 25 June; Group H, 28 June; Round of 16, 2 July; Quarter-final, 7 July.
This particular part of the Volga region is associated with the aerospace sector and that provided the inspiration for this uber-modern stadium design.
From the outside, the shape of the stadium resembles a glass dome and this will be particularly impressive when lit up for evening matches.
One thing to visit is the bunker where Stalin was to be relocated in the event the Germans occupied Moscow during the Second World War.
There isn’t much else to see, though the riverside parks should be thronged if the weather is hot.
The stadium, which is the centrepiece of a massive regeneration project in the north of the city, will be home to Premier League side Krylia Sovetov after the World Cup.
Capacity: 45,568 Opened: Under construction Team: Rotor Volgograd
Group G, 18 June; Group D, 22 June; Group A, 25 June; Group H, 28 June.
It all starts here for England on June 18 against Tunisia. Another ambitious new stadium build with an eye-catching design, it will have a lattice exterior, while the roof is meant to resemble the spokes of a bicycle wheel.
It is being built at the foot of the Mamayev Kurgan war memorial, the city’s most iconic landmark.
This towering monument of Mother Russia wielding an 11m long sword marks the bloody battle in 1943, when the city was known as Stalingrad, that turned back the German advance into Russia once and for all.
The new stadium will be home to second-tier Rotor Volgograd after the tournament, a team best known for their UEFA Cup elimination of Manchester United back in 1995.
Almost 1,000km south of Moscow, this venue will only stage group games and it’s also one of the longer trips for the England team, at two hours 35 minutes.
Still there is plenty of history to explore for those who do visit, with a big museum and various military cemeteries.
SARANSK – Mordovia Arena
Capacity: 44,412 Opened: 2017 Team: Mordovia Saransk
Group C, 16 June; Group H, 19 June; Group B, 25 June; Group G, 28 June.
An attractive-looking oval-shaped stadium design that features an exterior of orange, red and white coloured tiles to reflect Mordovia’s arts and crafts.
Saransk is the main city in the Mordovia region and is some 626km south-east of Moscow. It seems to also be the hub for industry, with mechanical engineering, metalwork and chemical plants among the main employers.
After the World Cup, local third division side Mordovia Saransk take up residency, with the capacity set to be lowered from 44,000 to 25,000, more suited to a team of their status.
The space freed up will be devoted to other sports including indoor volleyball, basketball and tennis.
ROSTOV-ON-DON – Rostov Arena
Capacity: 45,000 Opened: Under construction Team: Rostov
Group E, 17 June; Group A, 20 June; Group F, 23 June; Group D, 26 June; Round of 16, 2 July.
Over 1,000km south of Moscow, Rostov-on-Don is really moving into the ‘long-haul trek’ territory for those planning on coming to the World Cup.
Manchester United fans who made the journey to watch their team play Rostov in last season’s UEFA Europa League will attest to that.
The gateway to the Northern Caucasus region and the centre of Cossack culture, a visit here should certainly be a break from the norm.
The River Don flows through the heart of everything and the city’s open spaces have been designed around it – and so has the new stadium.
Located on the left bank of the river, the varying height of the stands offers panoramas of the city from your seat.
Not that it’s quite finished but when it is, Rostov will move in there. The club have never won the Russian Premier League but came mighty close in 2016 when they finished two points behind CSKA Moscow.
It’ll be two hours to fly in from Moscow and even longer from the England base right up in the north of the country.
What may concern visitors is Rostov’s reputation as one of Europe’s most dangerous. In 2015, crime there rose by a staggering 21.5 per cent, though you can expect the authorities to round up trouble-makers ahead of the World Cup.
SOCHI – Fisht Olympic Stadium
Capacity: 47,659 Opened: 2013 Team: Some Russia matches
Group B, 15 June; Group G, 18 June; Group F, 23 June; Group C, 26 June; Round of 16, 30 June; Quarter-final, 7 July.
Originally constructed for the 2014 Winter Olympics and Paralympics, the stadium has been overhauled and converted into a football stadium for the World Cup.
It is named after Mount Fisht, a peak in the Caucasus mountains and the silhouette of the stadium resembles a snow-capped mountain.
The Black Sea resort, some two hours from Moscow by plane, is incredibly popular with tourists and has become something of a sports hub, with the Russian Grand Prix also held there.
Sochi is nicknamed the ‘Russian Riviera’ but you can be the judge of that. It does have plenty of waterside restaurants, bars and nightclubs, the sea is warm and the climate will be very hot during the tournament.
However, since the World Cup will be held during the resort’s peak tourist season, prices for accommodation will be high.
Visiting fans will enjoy themselves, but it’ll be a slog for the team if they are drawn there. England did look at bases around Sochi and the Black Sea region, but Southgate feared the heat would be too much.
It means a three-hour flight and 5,000km round trip from Repino if they do have to play there.
YEKATERINBURG – Central Stadium
Capacity: 35,000 Open: 1957 (renovated 2014-2017) Team: FC Ural
Group A, 15 June; Group C, 21 June; Group H, 24 June; Group F, 27 June.
At some 1,800km from Moscow and 2,300km from Saint Petersburg, this is as far east as the World Cup gets.
England fans were talking in hushed tones about Yekaterinburg being the place to avoid and they’ll be glad they’ve managed to do just that.
The flight time from Moscow is a shade over two hours or a five-hour round trip from Saint Petersburg.
In a similar fashion to the Luzhniki in Moscow, the stadium is a rebuild with elements of the original, opened in 1953, retained to continue the Soviet neo-classicism architectural legacy.
The stadium hit the news in October when, behind the construction schedule and below the 35,000 minimum capacity, temporary stands at each end were added – but situated outside the stadium’s oval roof.
Built on a whole lot of scaffolding, the temporary stands looks quite frankly terrifying and anyone sat in them may need binoculars.
As for the city, Yekaterinburg is base camp for those wanting to explore the Ural mountains and the place was central to the events of the 1917 Bolshevik Revolution.
FC Ural will continue to use the stadium after the competition but the temporary seats will be removed and the capacity scaled down to 25,000.