Very soon Moscow will become the capital of football: thousands of fans will gather in the city during the World Cup. These matches are a real celebration, but football “workdays” are not boring either. Moscow arenas regularly hold amazing battles followed by many football fans.
More people in Moscow start to play football: over 391,000 last year compared with about 230,000 in 2010.
Football is not only popular because of its visual appeal. Moscow does everything possible to develop this sport. During the last eight years, the number of pitches and venues has grown by almost 3.5 times: 1,070 against 311. Today they can be found at sports school and in many Moscow courtyards and parks. They are high class: artificial pitches, lighting towers and even stalls.
For future stars
The city pays special attention to junior athletes. There are football sections at 20 Moskomsport institutions, with 15,000 participants. They are trained by the best teachers, including 13 honoured coaches of Russia. All conditions have been created there: four exercising zones and 45 pitches, with almost half of them being full-size. It is planned to build another three by the end of the year, and by 2020 the sports school will have six new pitches.
Junior footballers are already showing excellent results. In 2013, six Moscow footballers became European champions among junior teams. Last year, 17 Muscovites helped Russia’s teams win two international tournaments: Valentin Granatkin Memorial and the Development Cup. Moscow athlete Kirill Kolesnichenko was included in The Guardian’s list of the most talented young footballers.
Most pupils of sports schools dedicate their lives to professional sports. The Chertanovo Football School alone trained Igor Kolyvanov, Vasily Kulkov, Igor Chugainov, Diniyar Bilyaletdinov and other famous players.
Last year was marked with another huge victory. The Chertanovo team from Moscow won an international competition in Madrid. They played against renowned clubs, such as Italy’s Juventus or London’s Chelsea.
This year, the Chertanovo team saw a breakthrough: it has won the Professional Football League in the West zone and become the first football school’s team that got the right to play in Russia’s second-ranking division: the Russian Football National League.
It comes as no surprise that this system works: a Moscow club has won the national football competition for third time in a row. In 2016, it was CSKA, followed by Spartak in 2017 and Lokomotiv in 2018. There are many players who graduated from Moscow football schools in these teams. In the season 2017/2018, Muscovites were absolute leaders: Lokomotiv, CSKA and Spartak won the three highest places and won the right to represent Russia in the Champions League.
During the last four years, Moscow hasbuilt or completely renovated three new stadiums (Spartak with 45,360 seats in 2014, CSKA with 30,000 seats in 2016 and Luhhniki with 81,000 seats in 2017). The famous Dinamo Stadium is the next (26,319 seats).
The new Moscow stadiums are very popular with fans. It is very important that all the large Moscow arenas are accessible by public transport. New metro or MCC stations with the same names have opened near Spartak, CSKA, Lokomotiv and Luzhniki stadiums during the last four years. Another metro station, Petrovsky Park of the Big Circle Line, has opened near Dinamo Station that is under renovation now.
Speaking about football clubs, Spartak’s matches are most popular. Last season, when it became the champion of Russia, every home match was seen by 32,750 fans on the average. This is the team’s best result since 1989, but Spartak held its home matches at Luzhniki back then. This season, the club has finished third, and the average number of fans, with account of the Russian Cup and European competitions, was 31,709, which is more than 10,000 fans higher than seven years ago (in the season of 2011/2012, the average was about 21,000).
Lokomotiv has also gained more spectators (13,439 per match, with account of European competitions). The number of CSKA fans has also grown after the team moved from Khimki, Moscow Region, to a new arena: up to 17,858 per match on the average in the 2017/2018 season, with 8,000-9,000 watching CSKA matches in Khimki on the average. The number of Dinamo fans is also expected to grow when the popular club will once again be able to play at its stadium instead of Khimki.
The first match after the opening of the renovated Luzhniki (Russia vs Argentina) was held on 11 November 2017 and became the most popular football match during a long time: over 78,000 fans.
Perhaps Moscow fans only watch local clubs and the national team? No, many visited Spartak Stadium during the Confederations Cup last year. Russia vs Portugal and Portugal vs Mexico was watched by 42,759 and 42,659 accordingly, considering the fact that fans bought tickets for the latter match knowing that Cristiano Ronaldo would not be playing. The other two matches (Cameroon vs Chile and Chile vs Australia) were watched by approximately 33,500 fans, although these teams are not the prime football players.
For all the world
All this infrastructure has been prepared for the main sports event: the World Cup. The first match is taking place on 14 June at Luzhniki. Russia will play against Saudi Arabia. In total, Moscow will host 12 matches: seven at the Luzhniki Big Sports Arena and five at Spartak Stadium.
The city is ready to welcome thousands of fans. Hotels have already been certified and metro and healthcare workers have completed English courses. Over 200 English-speaking assistants from the Passenger Mobility Centre will help fans and tourists in the metro, and ticket offices staffed by English-speaking cashiers have got special stickers. Several days ago volunteers started giving tourists free Moscow guidebooks in Russian, English, Chinese, German, French or Spanish.
The World Cup will leave an excellent heritage behind: new junctions, metro stations and improved streets. The stadiums will not stay idle. For example, it is planned to host concert and sports competitions at Luzhniki in addition to football matches. Business events will also be held in the space under the stalls.