Russia cuts World Cup budget again after economic pressure

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MOSCOW (AP) Russia has reduced the budget for the 2018 World Cup by almost $80 million, less than five months after the sports minister ruled out further spending cuts.

The latest cuts, announced in a government document Thursday, come at a time of cuts to public spending across the board as the low oil price starves the government of revenue.

Thursday's changes bring total spending down to 620.9 billion rubles ($8.15 billion), funded by removing the international broadcast center in Moscow from the plans.

The World Cup organizing committee said this was because it would save money by basing the broadcast center in an existing convention center on the outskirts of Moscow rather than using a purpose-built site.

''There's no need to build a new venue, a new building for that,'' spokesman Anton Lisin told The Associated Press. ''You just need to spend a little bit to have all the facilities necessary within the existing facility.''

The change will not affect broadcast arrangements for the tournament, Lisin said.

Also cut was a planned renovation of a football academy which produced Russia midfielder Alan Dzagoev. It had been due to serve as a World Cup training ground.

In October, following a series of budget cuts throughout the year, Sports Minister Vitaly Mutko said the budget was ''final, it's protected and we won't cut anything any more,'' in comments to Russian media.

Last year, the number of luxury hotels, TV facilities and training sites for the tournament were all reduced as the government sought to reduce spending.