Staunton, May 15 – In addition to state-organized doping of athletes and the racism of many Russian soccer fans, there is another reason that has now surfaced for stripping Russia of the right to host the 2018 World Cup: the Kremlin’s policies appear to be forcing regions to cut assistance to cancer patients in order that they finance new stadiums for the competition.
In Nizhny Novgorod, a local finance official reportedly told a recent conference, the government has been forced to cut back spending not only on kindergartens, schools, roads, and bridges but also to delay plans to build a cancer treatment center -- even though that disease is now the number one killer in the oblast (kommersant.ru/doc/2975564).
Government media in that oblast have denied there had been any cutbacks. Instead, the authorities said they had boosted spending both for sports and for medical needs as well (nn.ru/news/more/raskhody_na_onkologiyu_izza_chm2018_ne_urezali_nizhegorodskie_vlasti_oprovergli_skandalnoe_zayavlenie/26262953/).
But the original story is plausible and has garnered widespread attention thanks to a statement on Friday by Duma deputy Dmitry Gudkov who said he wanted to get to the bottom of things and to remind officials that “our state is a social not a football state” (mk.ru/social/2016/05/13/smi-dengi-na-borbu-s-onkologiey-poshli-na-futbolnyy-chempionat.html).
According to “Moskovsky
komsomolets,” Moscow, despite all of Russia’s economic problems and the
declining standard of living for most Russians, is spending ten billion US
dollars to get ready for the World Cup competition (mk.ru/sport/2016/05/12/chm2018-po-futbolu-oboydetsya-rossii-v-10-milliardov-dollarov.html).
Moreover, Moscow has been forcing the various regions where the competition is scheduled to be held to bear most of the cost, forcing them to make the kind of choices Nizhny Novgorod already appears to have done. Despite that, however, only three of the 12 stadiums to be used are now ready (tvrain.ru/news/v_nizhegorodskoj_oblasti-409215/).