FIFA World Cup 2018: a unique way to discover Russia

Edition 30 November 2017, by H.E. Mr. A. Shulgin, Ambassador of Russian Federation

The World Cup is the most expected sport event that for the first time will be held in Russia. The decision that Russia would host the Championship was made on December 2, 2010 by the Executive Committee of FIFA. From June 14 to July 15 this football feast will take place in 11 cities of Russia: Moscow, Saint-Petersburg, Volgograd, Kazan, Nizhniy-Novgorod, Samara, Saransk, Kaliningrad, Rostov-on-Don, Sochi and Yekaterinburg. 32 strongest national teams are going to decide who will become the football’s trendsetter for the next 4 years.

This summer 4 Russian cities (Moscow, Saint- Petersburg, Kazan and Sochi) welcomed the Confederation Cup 2017 – a tournament traditionally held prior to the World Cup. 6 winners of the continental and current Cup holder – Germany – competed fiercely for the trophy. This intense competition ended by a match between Germany and Chile. The German “football machine” won that match and a tournament. About 630 000 of football fans from all over the world visited matches during the tournament that puts it among the most attended Confederation Cups in the history. An interesting fact about the winner of the tournament. During the Cup the Germany National team resided in Sochi and liked the place and its infrastructure so much that they booked it for the Cup in advance – almost a year before the World Cup. This decision is quite understandable. Sochi is a unique location combining the subtropical glance of a coastal city with a top-notch ski base, numerous national parks in the Caucasus with untouched nature and local hospitality that could not be found elsewhere. However Sochi is only one of the 11 locations of the upcoming FIFA World Cup to be discovered next summer. From the very first day after Russia was announced the host country intense work began. The task was to create proper infrastructure matching all FIFA’s strict requirements. Now we can say without any doubt that this task is almost accomplished. All of the stadiums either have already been renovated or are nearing completion.

A lot of stadiums have already hosted major international competitions. As mentioned before four of them were used at the Confederations Cup, Kazan Arena was one of the venues of the 2013 Summer Universiade, Fisht Stadium served as the venue for the opening and closing ceremonies of the 2014 Winter Olympics and Paralympics. The Luzhniki was selected as the stadium for the final game, which will be held on July 15, 2018. Next summer it will become one of the only stadiums to have hosted the finals of the World Cup, Champions Leaguea and the Olympic. It will stand in one line with such wellknown venues as Rome’s Stadio Olimpico, Berlin’s Olympiastadion, Munich’s Olympiastadion and London’s Wembley Stadium. The official opening of the renovated Luzhniki (capacity – 81 000) was marked by the game between Russia and Argentina on November 11, 2017. However what is by far more important than stadiums are the national teams and fans supporting them. The draw for the 2018 FIFA World Cup will take place on December 1, 2017 at the very heart of the Russian capital – the State Kremlin Palace. 32 participants will be divided into 8 groups with 4 teams in each. The World Cup is truly an international event that attracts attention of people all over the World. To be related to it means to become a part of history. As a result the Organizing Committee received more than 176 thousands applications from 190 countries for volunteer positions – an unprecedented number for all Cups. So far 15 000 volunteers will be involved in various spheres helping in the organization of tournament’s daily life, starting from eventmanagement and logistics, ending with mediarelations and translation services. Interpreters will also be in high demand next summer as teams and fans will speak Arabic, English, Farsi, French, Icelandic, Japanese, Korean, Polish, Portuguese, Serbian, Spanish and many other languages.

The forthcoming World Cup will be definitely remembered not only for the sport part but also for the unique services and solutions that will be implemented there. Among them is the hawk-eye technology that will be used for the first time. Fan ID – a document that is issued after the purchase of the ticket – is another one. Besides providing a convenient and secure access to the stadiums it also substitutes an entry visa to Russia for foreign nationals. Holders of Fan ID can use public transportation in host cities for free. Moreover they can enjoy complementary travel between the cities of the Cup. Few words should be said about the official mascot of the tournament – a wolf called Zabivaka. His name is kind of a well-known friendly pun in Russia meaning “the one who scores”. Originally the mascot was created and drawn by Ekaterina Bosharova, student of Tomsk State University. However Zabivaka was only one of the possible mascots that fans could choose from. More than one million Russians cast their votes for Zabivaka during the month-long voting period and the big reveal was done during a live show on the Russian television on October 21, 2016.

As a conclusion I would like to invite all the readers to visit Russia next summer and experience together one of the most prominent sport events of 2018. In my view, the Confederation Cup broke all possible stereotypes and prejudice about Russia. Especially the myth about the Russian football “hooligans”. Guest of the tournament enjoyed the highest possible level of security. You can easily check it by reading feedback from the international visitors of the Confederation Cup. Our major priority is to insure that during the World Cup there will be only news about football. The only memories you will get from your trip to Russia are positive emotions, energy from the international environment of the Cup and Russian hospitality. As it is said – seeing is believing. See you in Russia!