Russian governor proposes 'peace match' with Germany

Thu Jul 16, 2015 3:23am EDT
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By Mike Collett

VOLGOGRAD, Russia (Reuters) - The governor of the Russian city that was the site of one of the bloodiest battles of World War Two, wants to stage a "peace match" between the Russian and German national soccer teams in the lead-up to the 2018 World Cup.

Although there have been no formal discussions about the match taking place, Andrei Bocharov, the governor of the Volgograd region, said he would like the two nations to meet in a friendly international marking the official opening of the Victory Stadium.

"We would welcome such a match here, it would be a match of peace," Bocharov told reporters at the construction site.

"I am sure that a match such as Germany against Russia would capture the public's imagination in this city and I am sure the demand for tickets would be far greater than the capacity the stadium could hold."

One of 12 venues that will host World Cup matches in 2018, the Victory Stadium is due to be completed in late 2017, with seating for 45,000 spectators.

The new stadium will replace the now-demolished Central Stadium, the home of Rotor Volgograd, and is being built on land where the Battle of Stalingrad took place between Soviet and Nazi German troops.

During building works, the remains of two Red Army soldiers were discovered in an underground bunker and reburied with full military honors while unexploded bombs and other ordnance have been found and made safe.

"We would be happy to have the match here between Russia and Germany after the stadium is finished at the end of 2017," Bocharov said.   Continued...

Andrei Bocharov, the governor of the Volgograd region, is seen at the construction site of the new Pobeda (Victory) Arena soccer stadium in the city of Volgograd, Russia, July 15, 2015. REUTERS/Maxim Shemetov