Big country, big game: Russia preparing for 2018 FIFA World Cup

Big country, big game: Russia preparing for 2018 FIFA World Cup
The 2018 FIFA World Cup will take place in the middle, between Europe and Asia for the first time, with 11 Russian cities hosting football tournaments. This story discusses more projects that will excite football fans as Russia hosts another landmark sporting event next year.

This year, Russia hosted the FIFA Confederations Cup for the first time. The national teams from Australia, Chile, Mexico, New Zealand, Portugal, Cameroon, Germany and Russia played at stadiums in Moscow, St Petersburg, Sochi and Kazan.

The FIFA Confederations Cup was, in many ways, a rehearsal for the 2018 FIFA World Cup. Other stadiums, including Moscow’s Luzhniki Grand Sport Arena, are currently being completed.

Over 80,000 fans and artificial sunlight for turf

The Luzhniki Olympic Complex in Moscow will steal the limelight next year, hosting the 2018 FIFA World Cup’s opening ceremony and its finals.

The rebuilt Luzhniki Grand Sport Arena will seat 81,000 fans or 3,000 more than in the past. The grandstands are located as close as possible to the field, and the inclination angle has increased, allowing spectators to see the games from any vantage point. The stadium has two media screens and the latest in HD sound systems that the fans, even in the remotest sections, will love. The goal control system will help referees decide when the ball has crossed the goal line. Several video cameras will watch the goal itself, with the referee using a special bracelet to obtain data.

Spartak Stadium hosted four Confederations Cup matches, with 33,500-43,000 fans watching them.

Opened in 2014, the arena holds 45,000 football fans. There is no running track around the field so the grandstands are closer to the action. Two giant video screens also help visibility. The stadium’s natural turf is considered one of the best in Russia, and the stadium has been certified under green standards. Spartak Stadium will also host FIFA World Cup matches.

FIFA Secretary General Fatma Samba Diouf  Samoura noted the top-level organisation of FIFA Confederations Cup matches, and said Russia would host the 2018 FIFA World Cup in an even more impressive setting.

Training fields for sport schools and big stadiums

New stadiums and training grounds are an important aspect of preparations for the World Cup. New sport facilities will be built in Samara, Saransk, Rostov-on-Don, Nizhny Novgorod and Kaliningrad. Stadiums are currently being rebuilt in Yekaterinburg and Volgograd. Moscow is now completing the Luzhniki Grand Sport Arena project and has now used the new Spartak Stadium, as well as other facilities for the championship’s matches. For example, the CSKA Professional Football Club’s stadium opened in 2016, and the completely upgraded Dynamo Stadium will also receive fans next year.

Apart from large stadiums, there are plans to open 12 training fields for junior-league sport schools where 10,000 children will be able to play football. Other cities hosting the World Cup will receive new or upgraded airports, bridges, hotels and roads. Public transit will also be upgraded.

1,020 deluxe and affordable hotels to receive fans

Only certified hotels and hostels will receive FIFA World Cup fans and participants. Football fans will stay at 1,020 hotels. In all, the city now has 30 certified five-star hotels, 80 four-star and 209 three-star hotels. The city also has 109 two-star hotels and 41 single-star hotels. And there are also 551 zero-star hotels.

Touring the city and the region for free

New temporary designated transit lanes giving the right of way to football-fan buses will appear in the run-up to the World Cup.

Tourists will also be able to ride the metro, the Moscow Central Circle (MCC) railway, the monorail, as well as commuter trains in Moscow and the Moscow Region, for free, provided that each trip starts in the capital. Certain free bus, trolleybus and tram routes are also stipulated. Fans will be able to reach other cities aboard free trains.

Pocket maps for tourists and free Wi-Fi

Tourists and foreign fans will be able to obtain free pocket maps with a metro map in Russian and English, as well as Moscow Transport guides in Russian, English, Spanish, French and German, at Live Communication information counters in the metro and along the MCC, as well at railway stations and in Aeroexpress trains.

Metro and MCC announcements will also be made in English, for passengers’ convenience.

A 140 square metre media screen, to be installed on Vorobyovy Gory (Hills), will broadcast football matches. All stadiums will also be equipped with free broadband Wi-Fi.

Fines for violators and online instructions

Volunteers will help tourists and 2018 FIFA World Cup participants. The city has already trained over 2,000 volunteers who can administer first aid and who have improved communication skills. Volunteers dressed in bright red uniforms with the world “Volunteer” on their backs will be posted near metro stations, at railway stations and airports. Information desks will also be located there. The volunteers will tell fans how to reach their destinations on foot or using public transit.

Security will be tightened at railway stations and airports, near stadiums and in other public areas. During the games, civilian volunteer patrols will be stationed on streets near stadiums. Surveillance cameras will watch the grandstands and nearby areas around stadiums. A city situation centre will coordinate the efforts of security agencies and secret services while maintaining security during the World Cup.

Over 20 ambulance teams will be posted near stadiums during football matches, as well as between stadiums and metro stations and near the hotels that will accommodate athletes.

Online instructions in Russian and English will list the most important telephone numbers to call an ambulance. It will also tell visitors when to use their medical insurance policies for tourists and when they should contact a doctor immediately.

Not only sport

The city will prepare a cultural programme for 2018 FIFA World Cup football fans. 

During the 2017 Confederations Cup, many exhibition halls, art galleries and museums/estates received tourists free of charge. All they had to do was to show their football-fan ID cards. The State History Museum hosted guided tours in seven languages: Russian, English, French, German, Chinese, Spanish and Italian.

Journalists and bloggers sailed the Moskva River and rode double-decker buses all over town, with the guides describing local landmarks in eight languages: Russian, English, French, German, Arabic, Chinese, Spanish and Italian. The cultural programme also included visits to the metro, with journalists attending a workshop on how to paint wooden whistles and admiring masterpieces by outstanding artists at the State Tretyakov Gallery.