MOSCOW, January 28 (R-Sport) – Two-time Russian football champions Rubin Kazan will not move into their new stadium this season because they would "destroy the pitch," Russian Sports Minister Vitaly Mutko said Tuesday.
The 45,000-capacity Kazan Arena was completed last summer at a reported cost of $400 million and hosted ceremonies during July’s University Games, but is yet to host its first football match. It will be one of the 12 venues when Russia hosts the World Cup in 2018.
“We want to open the stadium with a national team game,” Mutko said. “The pitch is already laid, but we haven't let them play there and we won’t until May. Now the pitch is similar to the best one in St. Petersburg. Rubin? They will destroy the pitch, we don’t need that. The national team will play.”
This means Rubin will continue to play at the 53-year-old Central Stadium, a venue notorious for pitch problems that have often caused Rubin to play their spring fixtures in Moscow, 700 kilometers from home.
The Russian national team will play four friendlies ahead of the 2014 World Cup in Brazil, with May 24 and 31 the most likely dates for a Kazan fixture.
On March 5, Fabio Capello’s team will face Armenia in Krasnodar, and Russia will take on Tunisia in Moscow on June 6.
Kazan last hosted a Russia game in October with a 4-1 win over Luxembourg in a World Cup qualifier marred by racist chanting that was directed against inhabitants of Russia's North Caucasus regions.