Major nations want to avoid Moscow as World Cup base due to traffic -- sources
SOCHI -- A number of leading nations are planning to avoid choosing Moscow as a World Cup base in 2018 because of the traffic problems that plague the Russian capital, sources have told ESPN FC.
FIFA has identified 65 potential bases and hotels for the 32 competing nations next summer, from Kaliningrad and Ekaterinburg in the west and east and St Petersburg and Sochi in the north and south.
There are 23 bases being offered by the Russia 2018 Local Organising Committee in Moscow, including the training grounds of Spartak, Dynamo and Lokomitiv, and the city is also served by four international airports, enabling easy access to the other World Cup host cities during the tournament.
But sources have said that FIFA have been made aware that the likes of England and Germany are looking for base camps away from Moscow after being alarmed by the congestion on the city's roads, which can often lead to gridlock for lengthy periods during the day.
England manager Gareth Southgate and assistant Steve Holland have visited Russia during the Confederations Cup to assess the logistics in each of the four cities -- Moscow, Saint Petersburg, Kazan and Sochi -- being used as venues for the competition.
And sources have said that the situation in Moscow has prompted the Football Association to rule it out as a prospective base following similar problems which hampered the England squad during the 2014 World Cup in Brazil.
Three years ago, Roy Hodgson's squad used a picturesque training camp in Urca, in the shadow of Sugarloaf Mountain in Rio de Janeiro, during their stay in Brazil, but heavy traffic resulted in long periods when the players were sat on the team coach on their way to training.
Southgate is determined to avoid a repeat of that situation in Russia should England qualify and the FA are now assessing other options, with bases in the southern cluster around Sochi and Volgograd, as well as the central city of Nizhny-Novgorod, regarded as more suitable.
Another issue deemed as a priority for Southgate is connectivity and proximity to the other host cities, with flight times of more than three hours between the Kaliningrad and Ekaterinburg and Sochi and St Petersburg being distance apart.
Germany, who will face Mexico in Sochi on Thursday in the Confederations Cup semifinal, have been impressed by the facilities and climate in the Black Sea resort, which hosted the 2014 Winter Olympics.
The world champions have made a number of trips to Russia to identify a base location and they are expected to set up camp in the south of Russia next year.
Mark Ogden is a senior football writer for ESPN FC. Follow him @MarkOgden_