August 28, 2018 / 2:14 PM / in 3 months

Stadium built for Russia's World Cup left in dark over unpaid bills

FILE PHOTO: A general view shows the Samara Arena in Samara, Russia, May 6, 2018. REUTERS/Maxim Shemetov/File Photo

MOSCOW (Reuters) - Electricity was cut on Tuesday at a Russian stadium built for this year’s soccer World Cup over unpaid bills, a power supplier in the city of Samara told Reuters, despite President Vladimir Putin saying he did not want such venues to fall into disuse.

Samaraenergo said the power supply was cut early on Tuesday because PSO Kazan, the company that built the 42,000-seat stadium, had not paid its electricity bills this year and had racked up 9,216,000 rubles ($137,600) in debt.

“We waited for a long time, we delayed the power cut,” said Olga Perkova, a spokeswoman for Samaraenergo.

“Because PSO Kazan did not resolve the issue of paying its debt, a decision was made to cut electricity.” But after an internal meeting on Tuesday, Samaraenergo decided to turn the power back on because of upcoming Russian Premier League matches at the Samara Arena, even though it remains unclear when PSO Kazan will clear its debt, Perkova said. PSO Kazan did not reply to a request for comment.

Krylia Sovetov Samara, a Russian Premier League club, will face Anzhi Makhachkala at the stadium on Saturday. Krylia Sovetov did not reply to a request for comment, but wrote on Twitter on Tuesday afternoon that power had been turned back on. The Russian Premier League referred questions on the use of World Cup stadiums to Sport-In, a state-run company that manages the venues built for the tournament. When contacted on Tuesday, Sport-In said preparations for Saturday’s match were underway as usual. Authorities had scrambled in the run-up to the World Cup to finish work at the venue, following a series of construction delays. The stadium hosted six tournament matches, including England’s 2-0 quarter-final win against Sweden. Russia hosted the World Cup in June and July in 12 stadiums spread across 11 cities, and the authorities have pledged that the newly-built venues will be put to good use. Putin last month urged the government to ensure the infrastructure did not fall into disuse. But Russia has run into problems at some of its new stadiums. A day after last month’s final, heavy rain damaged the newly-built stadium in the southern city of Volgograd.

($1 = 66.9725 rubles)

Additional reporting by Anastasia Lyrchikova; Editing by Mark Potter

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