Thursday, 2 December 2010

To Russia With Love?

Well. It's not completely surprising is it? When it emgered that Prime Minister Putin wasn't going to travel to Zurich to try and persuade FIFA delegates for one last time, something seemed up. It was either that Russia knew they weren't going to win, or they had a pretty good idea that they were going to win. And congratulations to them. In the end, they did manage to put the most successful bid together as theirs was the one that won. Of course, in managing to win the backing of an extremely corrupt, self-regulating, non-governmental organisation, it may seem as though something fishy may be happening, but there is no evidence of this currently. And, I imagine, there never will be, although that necessarily be because the Russians were whiter than whiter (and I don't believe they were).

However, I will leave the issue of possible Russian/FIFA bribes/corruption for another day. Besides, I'm not an investigative journalist, so would just be re-hashing the same old stuff which you can read elsewhere, which is not a good policy for a personal blog! What I would like to do for a moment is consider whether or not Russia's World Cup will be a good one, or not?

Ok. It is the World Cup, so the standard of football shouldn't really be the issue, although I personally cannot recall a single game from this year's World Cup... that could say more about my memory then anything else though.

Football aside, there are the problems of logistics and cost. Logistically it's going to be very hard. There is one basic fact that everyone knows about Russia. It's bloody HUGE. The World Cup bid is centred on the European part of the country (ie. West of the Ural Mountains) to counter this slightly, but there are still massive distances to be travelled, which will not come cheap. An example; from Sochi (the host of the Winter Olympics in 2014) near the border with Georgia to St Petersburg, which is vaguely near Estonia, the distance is.... too great for google maps to calculate. Wow. How much is a plane between those two cities going to cost!? I cannot imagine for one milisecond it'll come cheap, nor can I imagine that hotels, taxis, resturaunts etc etc will be kind to the fans who have travelled to Russia for a 'once in a lifetime opportunity' to take in the Russian World Cup; and be ripped off in the process.

There is also the problem of infastructure. Now, I am not the greatest authority on the vagueries of Russian infastructure, so I'll leave it to Shaun Walker in the 2nd December's Independant (p63), before the host nation had finally been annouced.

"Unlike South Africa, which already had a developed tourist industry and a history of hosting major sporting events before this year's World Cup, many of the Russian cities put forward as host venues have little or no tourist infastructure. It's hard to imagine Brazilian fans sambaing through the streets of the drab Baltic port of Kaliningrad, or the WAGs hitting the shops of Ekaterinburg"

Good point Shaun. Of course, the Russians have countered this by saying they will pump billions into the necessary infastructure and stadia. And I would not doubt them if they did not have such an unbelieveably massive task on their hands. But unfortunately they do have an absolutely massive task on their hands; they will really have to sort themselves out if the World Cup there is going to be successful. I sincerely hope that they do manage to put on a good World Cup in 2018. However, at the moment, it looks as though FIFA's decision is... how to put this kindly... not extremely well thought out.

Hope you enjoyed reading.


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