The FIFA World Cup 2018 will be held in Russia from June 14th until July 15th. Amid the celebrations and soccer adrenaline, most travelers worry about safety and the logistic involved in attending the matches and joining the fun. GWS will, in a series of articles, approach these issues and provide useful information to travelers attending the event.
In our first article, we cover an overview of security related issues in Russia and general information of three host cities, Moscow, Nizhny Novgorod and Kaliningrad.
Travel security overview
When it comes to major global events, be them sport related or not, security and individual integrity are some of the biggest concerns one can have when thinking about attending. The World Cup, one of the biggest sport events in the world, matched only by the Olympic Games, is not different. High profile politicians, chiefs of state and the world’s best players are expected to attend along with over 1 million tourists from around the globe.
The presence of global leaders and large crowds leads to one of the key contemporary security concerns: terrorism.
Risk of terrorism during a global sports event
Russia’s security forces have already admitted that terrorist acts are possible during the cup even with reported anti-terror operations being carried out months in advance, and also reminiscent from the 2014´s Winter Olympics in Sochi.
The North Caucasus region, home to one of the host cities, Rostov-on-Don, is considered a particularly problematic area as it is home to several separatist movements and Islamic radicalized groups, such as ISIS. With several defeats in Middle East grounds, it is openly speculated that militants have migrated to the region. A successful attack during a high-profile event such as the World Cup could also significantly boost the group’s popularity among its followers, which has been shaken in the past few months due to the losses in Syria and Iraq.
Political and diplomatic implications
Concerning internal affairs, Russia reelected Vladmir Putin as its president on March 18th. Putin will serve his forth term with the approval of 77% of the voters. Despite the consistent win, movements opposing Putin’s government are likely to take advantage of the spotlight brought from the World Cup to protest issues ranging from accusations of electoral fraud to human rights violations. GWS Production’s Safeture app has published alerts on two protests in Moscow and Volokolamsk in the days following the election. Both had low risks of violence, which can be considered a trend at least until the World Cup, due to the high-level of police control.
On foreign politics, Russia has been playing an important and controversial role in several global and transnational events. Most notably, relations with US government and alleged interference in its 2016 elections and tensions with the United Kingdom over the death of a former Russian spy in British territory. On the week of 26th March, several European countries and the United States expelled over 100 Russian diplomats from their territories. At least two countries, England and Iceland have announced that their leaders will not attend any ceremony or event in the World Cup. Nevertheless, the consequences are expected to stay in diplomatic grounds and have little influence on the development of the Cup.
Population: approximately 11.500.000
Stadiums: Spartak Stadium (45.000) and Luzhniki Arena (80.000)
- 14 June, 18:00 – Russia vs Saudi Arabia – Group A
- 17 June, 18:00 – Germany vs Mexico – Group F
- 20 June, 15:00 – Portugal vs Morocco – Group B
- 26 June, 17:00 – Denmark vs France – Group C
- 1 July, 17:00 – 1B vs 2A – Round of 16
- 11 July, 21:00 – W59 vs W60 – Semi Final
- 15 July, 18:00 – W61 vs W62 – Final
- 16 June, 16:00 – Argentina vs Iceland – Group D
- 19 June, 15:00 – Poland vs Senegal – Group H
- 23 June, 15:00 – Belgium vs Tunisia – Group B
- 26 June, 17:00 – Serbia vs Brazil – Group C
- 3 July, 21:00 – 1H vs 2G – Round of 16
- Fifa Fun Fest: Vorobyovy Gory (Sparrow Hills) (25.000)
Population: approximately 1.250.000
Stadium: Nizhny Novgorod Stadium (45.000)
- 18 June, 15:00 – Sweden vs Korea Republic – Group F
- 21 June, 21:00 – Argentina vs Croatia – Group D
- 24 June, 15:00 – England vs Panama – Group G
- 27 June, 21:00 – Switzerland vs Costa Rica – Group E
- 1 July, 21:00 – 1D vs 2C – Round of 16
- 6 July, 17:00 – W49 vs W50 – Quarter Final
- Fifa Fun Fest: Minin and Pozharsky Square (15.000)
Population: approximately 431.000
Stadium: Kaliningrad Stadium (35.000)
- 16 June, 21:00 – Croatia vs Nigeria – Group D
- 22 June, 20:00 – Serbia vs Switzerland – Group E
- 25 June, 20:00 – Spain vs Morocco – Group B
- 28 June, 20:00 – England vs Belgium – Group G
- Fifa Fun Fest: Central Square (15.000)
Our next article will take a look at two additonal concerns common for travelers attending major sporting events: hooliganism and common criminality. A profile of Saint Petersburg, Samara and Volgograd will also be included.
Continue to monitor our Safeture app for updated information on events in Russia.