As the UK mainstream media is as always extremely shy to report any good news from my country, I am delighted to fill in the gap and share with you a wee taste of what is upcoming in Russia in less than two weeks’ time.
This summer is going to be very special for football fans – many hundreds of thousands of them from all over the world will experience a summer of joy, together with the people of Russia during the 2018 FIFA World Cup.
The World Cup will be held in 11 host cities: Moscow, Saint Petersburg, Kaliningrad, Volgograd, Kazan, Nizhniy Novgorod, Samara, Saransk, Rostov-on-Don, Sochi and Yekaterinburg.
Each of them has its own unique appearance and symbolises the diversity of nature, culture and traditions of our country. All these cities provide excellent opportunities to experience Russian culture and the friendliness and hospitality of the Russian people.
It would be an understatement to say that tickets for the World Cup are in extremely high demand. More than two million have already been distributed around the world via the FIFA website and international fans have purchased 54 per cent of them.
As of 17 May, the top ten countries, in addition to Russia (872,578 tickets), include the United States (86,710), Brazil (71,878), Colombia (64,231), Germany (60,457), Mexico (58,870), Argentina (52,999), Peru (42,645), China (39,884), and Australia (36,170). Some 32,324 tickets had been purchased by the British fans. So hurry up, there are still some left!
Twelve football stadiums designed and built in accordance with the highest international standards will host the matches. The most famous one is probably Luzhniki Stadium in Moscow, which was built in 1956 and welcomed the Olympic Games in 1980. The stadium has recently undergone a second major reconstruction in its history and is now ready to host the most important games including the opening match, the semi-final and the final.
More than 700 additional trains traveling between host cities and airports during the sporting events have been laid on and rail travel will be provided for free to spectators holding match tickets and FAN IDs.
Almost all of the major international hotel chains operate in Russia. No matter where the hotel is situated, it is guaranteed to meet its usual high standards. There is hardly a hotel in Russia without wi-fi, and it’s free in most hotels.
A tourist website – Welcome2018.com – was developed for World Cup fans. It is providing information about the Cup events and the cities and can be used to plan trips and book services.
How to get to Russia, why and who needs a FAN ID, how to exchange currency for rubles, where to find wi-fi, how to book a hotel and where to find the best sports bars – answers to these and other questions (even the most tricky!) can be found in the online guide with just a couple of clicks.
The Russian people are looking forward to welcoming you all at the 2018 FIFA World Cup. Please, do not miss this chance to experience the true Russia.
We cannot wait for the kick-off! Let fair play prevail. And keep the dream alive.
Andrey A. Pritsepov is Consul General of the Russian Federation in Scotland