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Russia’s stadiums open for World Cup



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Although some pushed it down to the wire, all 12 stadiums have been completed in time for the June 14 to July 15 World Cup in Russia.

From Moscow’s grand Luzhniki Stadium, which also hosted the 1980 Summer Olympics, to the worrisomely late Samara Arena, here is a look at where the football games will be played.

MOSCOW (Luzhniki Stadium)

Capacity: 80,000

Opening: 1956 (renovated 2017)

Estimated cost: $385 million (330 million euros)

Matches: June 14 – Russia vs Saudi Arabia; June 17 – Germany vs Mexico; June 20 – Portugal vs Morocco; June 26 – Denmark vs France; July 1 Round of 16; July 11 – Semi Final; July 15 – Final

The historic crucible of Soviet and Russian sport, Luzhniki is the national squad’s home ground and venue for major political events, such as big speeches by President Vladimir Putin. It was gutted and rebuilt for the World Cup, turning it into a football-specific venue. Only its original facade remains.

MOSCOW (Spartak Stadium)

Capacity: 45,000

Opening: 2014

Estimated cost: $235 million

Matches: June 16 – Argentina vs Iceland, June 19 – Poland vs Senegal; June 23 – Belgium vs Tunisia; June 26 – Serbia vs Brazil; July 3 – Round of 16

Russia’s most popular team by a wide margin, Spartak Moscow had no place to call home until the red and white arena opened to great fanfare four years ago. Spartak fans also think their stadium has the best atmosphere, although that point is up for debate.

SAINT PETERSBURG (Saint Petersburg Stadium)

Capacity: 68,000

Opening: 2017

Estimated cost: $700-$775 million

Matches: June 15 – Morocco vs Iran; June 19 – Russia vs Egypt; June 22 – Brazil vs Costa Rica; June 26 – Nigeria vs Argentina; July 3 – Round of 16; July 10 – Semi Final; July 14 – Third Place playoff

Under construction for more than a decade due to bureaucratic red tape and graft, the majestic arena cost about three times more than planned. Russia’s most high-tech arena, with a retractable roof and pitch, will host some of the tournament’s most glamorous matches, including ones played by Argentina and Brazil.

KAZAN (Kazan Arena)

Capacity: 45,000

Opening: 2013

Estimated cost: $230 million

Matches: June 16 – France vs Australia; June 20 – Iran vs Spain; June 24 – Poland vs Colombia; June 27 – South Korea vs Germany; June 30 – – Round of 16; July 6 – Quarter Final

Built for the 2013 University Games, Kazan Arena has grand ambitions, with Russian authorities thinking of proposing it as a future Summer Olympics venue.

SOCHI (Fisht Stadium)

Capacity: 48,000

Opening: 2014 (renovated 2017)

Estimated cost: $380 million + $65 million for renovation

Matches: June 15 – Portugal vs Spain; June 18 – Belgium vs Panama; June 23 – Germany vs Sweden; June 26 – Australia vs Peru; June 30 – Round of 16; July 7 – Quarter Final

Situated not far from Putin’s vacation home on the Black Sea and surrounded by snow-capped mountains, Fisht Stadium is Russia’s most scenic football venue. Sadly for locals, Sochi has no team and the stadium’s future purpose remains unclear.

VOLGOGRAD (Volgograd Arena)

Capacity: 45,000

Opening: 2018

Estimated cost: $260 million

Matches: June 18 – Tunisia vs England; June 22 – Nigeria vs Iceland; June 25 – Saudi Arabia vs Egypt; June 28 – Japan vs Poland

Reminiscent of the “Bird’s Nest” stadium that hosted the 2008 Summer Games in Beijing, Volgograd Arena was built on the site of the Battle of Stalingrad, the heroic turning point of World War II in which two million people died. The stadium is now the focal point of a major city renovation project.

NIZHNY NOVGOROD (Nizhny Novgorod Stadium)

Capacity: 45,000

Opening: 2018

Estimated cost: $275 million

Matches: June 18 – Sweden vs South Korea; June 21 – Argentina vs Croatia; June 24 – England vs Panama; June 27 – Switzerland vs Costa Rica; July 1 Round of 16; July 6 – Quarter Final

With elegant, wave-like stands resembling those of Marseille’s Stade Velodrome, the Volga River stadium will be home to a brand-new local team after the World Cup.


Capacity: 45,000

Opening: 2018

Estimated cost: $320 million

Matches: June 17 – Brazil vs Switzerland; June 20 – Uruguay vs Saudi Arabia; June 23 – Korea Republic vs Mexico; June 26 – Iceland vs Croatia; July 2 Round of 16

The southern Russia city sits just 60 kilometres (40 miles) from the war zone in east Ukraine, where a four-year conflict has killed more than 10,000 people. Russia is taking extensive security measures to make sure the fans are safe.

SAMARA (Samara Arena)

Capacity: 45,000

Opening 2018

Estimated cost: $305 million

Matches: June 17 – Costa Rica vs Serbia; June 21 – Denmark vs Australia; June 25 – Uruguay vs Russia; June 28 – Senegal vs Colombia; July 2 Round of 16; July 7 Quarter Final

Samara Arena made international headlines when FIFA noticed a few months ago that it still had no pitch. The grass was finally delivered from Germany in April, and the stadium — while not looking as majestic as originally envisioned after some corners were cut — is ready for action.

SARANSK (Mordovia Arena)

Capacity: 45,000

Opening: 2018

Estimated cost: $265 million

Matches: June 16 – Peru vs Denmark; June 19 – Colombia vs Japan; June 25 – Iran vs Portugal; June 28 – Panama vs Tunisia

No matter which way you put it, Mordovia Arena is a bit of a mystery. Never famous for its football, Saransk had a miniature airport and no modern hotels until the World Cup, with the region best known for being a wilderness where Russia put most of its female penal colonies. The city now has a brand-new arena that will house a third division side.

YEKATERINBURG (Yekaterinburg Arena)

Capacity: 35,000

Opening: 1957 (renovated 2018)

Estimated cost: $210 million

Matches: June 15 – Egypt vs Uruguay; June 21 – France vs Peru; June 24 – Japan vs Senegal; June 27 – Mexico vs Sweden

To locals’ distress, fans had a good laugh at Yekaterinburg’s expense for building an arena with two vertiginous stands entirely outside the arena. The stands overlook a nearby highway, although organisers say they also offer a nice city view. The stands will only seat Russians and be dismantled after the tournament, slimming down the stadium to 27,000 seats — a solution FIFA applauds.

KALININGRAD (Baltika Arena)

Capacity: 35,000

Opening: 2018

Estimated cost: $280 million

Matches: June 16 – Croatia vs Nigeria; June 22 – Serbia vs Switzerland, June 25 – Spain vs Morocco; June 28 – England vs Belgium

Russia’s westernmost city, nestled between Lithuania and Poland on the Baltic Sea, is also one of its most European, having been part of the East Prussia and Germany until World War II. The stadium’s construction got off to a shaky start because organisers — seeking to develop an empty lot on a central city island — decided to build it on a swamp. But once the edifice stopped sinking, workers managed to make up for lost time and it opened to sighs of relief in April.



Facebook’s WhatsApp limits text forwards to five user to restrain false news



Facebook Inc’s WhatsApp (FB.O) messenger service company executives has stated their desire in globally limiting the number of times a user can farward a message to five, in a bid to fight “misinformation and rumors”.

Victoria Grand, vice president for policy and communications at WhatsApp, said at an event in the Indonesian capital, “We’re imposing a limit of five messages all over the world as of today.”


Previously, a WhatsApp user could forward a message to 20 individuals or groups. The five-recipient limit expands globally a measure WhatsApp put into place in India in July after the spread of rumors on social media led to killings and lynching attempts.

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WhatsApp, which has around 1.5 billion users, has been trying to find ways to stop misuse of the app, following global concern that the platform was being used to spread fake news, manipulated photos, videos without context, and audio hoaxes, with no way to monitor their origin or full reach.

The app’s end-to-end encryption allows groups of hundreds of users to exchange texts, photos and video beyond the purview of independent fact checkers or even the platform itself.


Credit to Reuters for confirming the development through WhatsApp’s head of communications Carl Woog, stating that WhatsApp will roll out an update to activate the new forward limit starting Monday. adding that Android users will receive the update first, followed by users of Apple’s iOS.


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R.Kelly cut off by Sony music over alleged acts of sexual abuse



Chicago-born singer, R. Kelly has parted ways with Sony Music and its subsidiary label, RCA Records, amid controversies surrounding his alleged acts of sexual abuse.

The controversial singer, who is facing different allegations of abduction, sexual abuse and exploitation, was dropped by the record label on Friday.

R. Kelly was removed from the RCA Records website, whose parent company is Sony Music.


This new development comes in the wake of calls and petitions from members of the #MuteRKelly movement, who have been pestering the record company to part ways with him.

The calls intensified in the wake of the documentary ‘Surviving R. Kelly’ in which multiple women accused him of sexual assault.


This month has seen previous collaborators like Lady Gaga, Chance the Rapper, and Phoenix, all condemn R. Kelly and remove their collaborative songs from streaming services.

The documentary ‘Surviving R.Kelly’ is in six parts and gives detailed explanation into the history of allegations against the 52-year-old superstar.


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