A view of the Kaliningrad Stadium taken last month ©Getty Images

Russia's first Deputy Minister of Construction, Housing and Utilities Leonid Stavitsky has claimed that preparations for next summer's 2018 FIFA World Cup remain on track with all stadia to be completed by the end of the year.

"The construction of sporting venues, including in Kaliningrad, has now entered its final stage," Stavitsky is quoted from the communications arm of Russia’s Kaliningrad Region, via Russian official state news agency TASS

"The focus is now on preparing all the necessary documentation. 

"All facilities must be commissioned without delay by late December this year."

A working group was set up by Russian Deputy Prime Minister Vitaly Mutko to prepare and hold the 2017 Confederations Cup and the 2018 World Cup.

Its aim is to coordinate the work of all bodies and companies taking part in the construction project.

Russia selected 11 host cities as World Cup venues and 12 stadia for the tournament to be held between June 14 and July 15.

They are: Moscow, St. Petersburg, Sochi, Kazan, Saransk, Kaliningrad, Volgograd, Rostov-on-Don, Nizhny Novgorod, Yekaterinburg and Samara. 

Two of the stadia are located in the Russian capital.

Recent reports have claimed the Kaliningrad stadium is 83 per cent ready and is due to host test matches in March and April.

Kaliningrad, Russia's Baltic exclave, will host four group stage games next summer.

Two weeks ago Russian Sports Minister Pavel Kolobkov revealed that the 45,000-capacity Samara Arena, which will host several games, remains behind schedule and that the company building the venue had been fined.

"There are some delays at different stages of construction at the stadium in Samara," he was reported as saying by news agency Reuters.

The contractor of the venue announced in August that the stadium had fallen 30 days behind its construction schedule.

Sergei Ponomaryov, deputy head of general contractor PSO Kazan, insisted, however, that major construction work would be complete by the agreed deadline of later this year.

The 45,000 Samara Arena will play host to several games ©Getty Images
The 45,000 Samara Arena will play host to several games ©Getty Images

In an attempt to make stadiums safer, Russia will issue special identity cards. 

The country has also relaxed visa regulations for travelling fans.

Alexey Sorokin, chief executive of the Russia 2018, claimed that FIFA has spoken highly of preparations for the World Cup.

"The inspectors have already visited Yekaterinburg, Samara, Nizhny Novgorod, Saransk and Rostov-on-Don," he said.

"To date, FIFA, as a whole, has had a favourable view of the degree of the host cities’ readiness for the tournament."

A stand has been added outside the Ekaterinburg Arena, which, with a capacity of 27,000, was deemed too small to meet FIFA standards.

Rather than constructing a new stadium, a new stand was added outside the venue on massive scaffolding, to increase the capacity to 45,000.

The stand is only temporary and will be removed after the World Cup.

Ekaterinburg is the fourth largest city in Russia in terms of population, and is one of 12 Russian cities with a population of over a million.

A temporary stand has added to the outside of the 27,000 capacity Ekaterinburg Arena ©Getty Images
A temporary stand has added to the outside of the 27,000 capacity Ekaterinburg Arena ©Getty Images

Meanwhile, Russia’s Interior Ministry has put 374 football supporters on a fans’ blacklist, the ministry’s press office told TASS.

Some have been barred from attending sports events up until 2020 while the basic ban has been imposed until 2018, the Ministry said.

According to the Interior Ministry’s data, the blacklist includes young persons no older than 35 years old who have been banned to attend sports events this year.

The Interior Ministry earlier said that if the blacklisted persons showed up at the places of official sports events, they would be given fines ranging from 20,000 rubles (£266/$350/€298) to 25,000 rubles ($435/£330/€370) or face arrest for a period of up to 15 days.