With the World Cup due to take place starting June 14 and running through June 15, I wanted to take this opportunity to reach out to AS Solution for their advice on how to enjoy the matches and the experience while ensuring you take the best safety precautions. It follows below.
With more than a
million fans expected in Moscow alone, this summer’s 2018 FIFA World Cup in
Russia is shaping up to be one of the biggest travel events of the year.
National and local security efforts are expected to be just as massive and
effective as they were during the Sochi Olympics back in 2014. Still, we
encourage travelers to read our list of do’s and don’ts.
Where and when
The 2018 World Cup
in Russia, taking place between the 14th of June and the 15th of
July, is shaping up to be an exceptional event for multiple reasons. The first,
and perhaps most evident one, is the fact that Russia is the largest country on
Earth. Although the 2014 World
Cup in Brazil came with its own set of travel-related worries,
the scope of the 2018 event looks even more daunting. Spread between 11 host
cities and 12 venues, travelers hoping to attend events in all cities
will have to navigate an area roughly the size of Western Europe and with its
unique set of challenges.
Here is the list
of host cities, stadiums, and their respective capacities:
Stadium, capacity 68,134
o Luzhniki Stadium, capacity 81,000
o Otkritie Arena (Spartak Stadium) capacity
Arena, capacity 45,379
Arena, capacity 44,918
Arena, capacity 44,442
Arena, capacity 45,000
Olympic Stadium, capacity 47,659
Stadium, capacity 35,696
Arena, capacity 45,568
Novgorod: Nizhny Novgorod Stadium, capacity 44,899
Stadium, capacity 35,312
project for Putin
As always, the
Russian government has invested heavily in security. More than 11,000 police
officers will deployed in Saint Petersburg alone, ordered to ensure guests and
athletes a safe World Cup. Putin’s government has a reputation for cracking
down on any terror attempts, and you can rest assured that his administration
will do its best to make your trip to Russia as pleasantly memorable as
possible. We’ve already seen it happen in 2014: despite a certain number of
fears at the time, the Sochi Olympics showed that Russia is perfectly capable
of hosting a major sporting event with little-to-no trouble.
However, you can
and should make your own safety precautions. Past events may be a good sign
that things will go smoothly, but they’re far from being a guarantee. If you
intend to travel to Russia, be sure to read through the do’s and don’ts below.
your biggest risk
Traffic in Russia
is not for the light-hearted. With potholes that can challenge the best of
drivers and a carpool that counts both warn-out Soviet Union Lada’s and new
fast-driving Mercedes Benz, we cannot recommend any attempts of driving on your
own during the World Cup.
The stats speak
for themselves. The latest
available WHO Report shows traffic fatalities per 100,000 per
year at 18.9 for Russia. By comparison, the U.S. is at 10.6, Germany at 4.3,
and the U.K. at 2.9. Granted, those numbers should be taken with a grain of
salt. Russia is a huge country, and driving through Moscow is
unlikely to be dangerous as driving through the country’s more remote eastern
areas. Still, on average, Russia has as many road casualties as Guatemala,
Kuwait, and Tajikistan.
If you are a
corporate client, we would highly suggest reaching out to your security
provider and booking security drivers for the trip. If you’re going there on
your own, here are some things to keep in mind.
Do use the
excellent train services when traveling between World Cup venues. Russia
has provided over 500 free “fan trains” that will make the journey between host
cities. Yes, free All you need is your FAN-ID for the games and to
sign up ahead of time at https://tickets.transport2018.com
Do book official
taxis. It can be tempting to accept one of the so-called “private
taxis”—meaning, unlicensed taxis—that are easily available, but there
have been several cases of tourists being cheated or even robbed. You can
always call the national call center on 8-800-550-86-42 to hire a taxi, get
train schedules, or directions for pretty much anything. They will also help
with translations and contact emergency services.
Don’t miss out on
the excellent metro systems in many of the host cities. Moscow’s public
transport system is considered one of the most beautiful in the world, and safe
Don’t even think
about biking. Although most cities do provide rental bike services, bike lanes
are a rarity and Russians are simply not used to bikes in traffic.
Terror: Always a
possibility – even if remote
However, we are
now talking about 11 host cities and large groups of fans traveling between
cities following their teams. Even for a highly-trained and on-edge Russian
police force, it is impossible to secure everything.
Do remain aware of
your surroundings. Respect your own intuition, keep your wits about you and if
something doesn’t seem right—consider changing your location.
Don’t always seek
the crowded areas. Stadiums and fan zones should be safe, but there is no
reason for you to hang out at the local train station unless you have an errand
panic. In case of a terror situation, consider that you are more likely to
get injured in a panicked stampede out of the stadium than by any
bomb within the stadium
clear, stay safe
appreciation for the Russian team. Wear a Russian team jersey if you need to
blend in, or simply don’t wear your own team’s colors outside of the stadiums.
No reason to invite conflict when it can be avoided.
Do stay in
designated fan areas. Police will be present and will strike down on any
hooliganism in these areas.
Don’t provoke or
be provoked. Some guys will be looking for a fight and may not limit themselves
to their bare hands.
Don’t seek the
Russian home games if possible. The national team’s performances have not been
strong lately, and an early exit from the World Cup could ignite an outburst of
Use your street smarts
fourth-highest alcohol consumption in the World with a macho
don’t-get-in-my-way culture, Russia has a reputation for violence. Such
stereotypes are far from being universal truths—most Russians are friendly and
only wish you the best of World Cups—but it doesn’t mean you shouldn’t be
careful when walking around.
Do respect that
you are a visitor in Russia. Follow local etiquette and treat the old babushka
as you would your own grandma. Also, learn a few phrases in Russian. Basic
politeness goes a long way, and it will be appreciated.
Do always respect
authority. Russian police will be at their best behavior, but they will not shy
away from enforcing their authority if you try to argue too much with them.
Do be extra
cautious if you are a person of color. Sad but true, racism remains a major
issue in Russian society.
Don’t seek dodgy
parts of town. You will probably be presented with your fair share of strip
clubs and establishments that offer more than a dance. Often, these “clubs”
will be on the outskirts of town. In addition to topless dancers, these places
are known for crazy expensive prices as well as a good beating if you are not
able to pay.
public displays of homosexuality. These are not socially tolerated, and hate
crimes are common.
info and regional differences
Russia is a huge
country, and there are regional differences that should be considered when
attending the World Cup. Cities are different, stadiums are different, and so
is local culture.
Do take extra
caution when traveling to the Caucasus region. The ongoing trouble in Chechnya
and neighboring republics present a very real risk. Amongst the World Cup host
cities, Sochi is the most likely to experience trouble, should it arise.
Do consider that
Rostov has a reputation of being one of Europe’s most violent cities, where
2015 saw a rise of crime with a staggering 21.5 per cent.
Do use local
pharmacies (“Aptekas”). Any painkillers and over-the-counter medicine you
need should be easily available.
underestimate the Russian summer. Many of the stadiums (e.g., Yekaterinburg’s)
are exposed to the blistering sun. Drink plenty of water, use sunscreen, and
remember to bring a hat.
Don’t eat food
from dubious places. Food poisoning is all too common, so learn to rely on
bottled water, and skip late-night hot dogs from low-traffic street vendors.
Don’t forget to
enjoy these cultural differences as well. Saint Petersburg has stunning
architecture. Kazan is over 150 years older than Moscow and famous for its
multi-colored domes and minarets of the churches and mosques.