Four Years On Russia World Cup 2018

Russia World Cup 2018

On 24 February 2022, Russia launched an unprovoked, large-scale military invasion of Ukraine, its neighbour to the southwest, marking an escalation to a conflict that began in 2014 with the Russian annexation of Crimea and the Donbass. Stop The War!

Four years on and here I am at the World Cup again.

After my experiences at the last one I have decided to take things easy this time.

Moscow 2018

I considered visiting every venue in two weeks, but slowing things down I have opted to just visit nine of the stadiums in eight cities in 16 days taking in 13 games.

Whilst my plans have been in place for a while and have remained unchanged (before I arrive in Russia). Those around me have not fared so well.

Argentina fans in Moscow, Russia 2018
Messi masks

Three friends were due to join me for the first week in Moscow and St Petersburg but with weeks to go they decided against making the trip.

Then my Mexican friend who had planned to leave for Europe at the same time as I departed after Scotland's game in Mexico City two weeks ago was unable to come due to a personal matter.

Mexico fan praying for success
Mexico fan praying for success

Finally (I hope) another friend in Moscow has just had an operation and is having to wear a neck brace for three weeks. So he has decided to give the 24 hour train journey to Volgograd a miss. Although he will go to games in Moscow.

All this made me think of my one and only previous trip to Russia. Back in the day when my team were in Europe (no I don't mean the Brexit vote) they were drawn against Spartak Moscow at the end of November.

Now the weather was a little cold and the warning signs were there when I saw the Moskva River for the first time, covered in ice and with people fishing through a hole in the ice in the middle of the river. You won't be surprised that the game was called off, and the match rearranged for Sofia, Bulgaria.

Statue of Spartacus outside Spartak Moscow's stadium
Statue of Spartacus outside Spartak Moscow's stadium

I took the overnight flight from London on Friday night, managed to see the competition come alive as I watched the second half of Portugal v Spain before departing.

The plane was full and noisy with the Argentinians being the loudest. Also present in numbers were Peruvians, Mexicans (as always), Costa Ricans and Nigerians.

Arriving in Moscow around 5 am I slowly made my way to my accommodation. I had sent them a message to let them know I would be arriving around 7 am and had booked for last night to ensure I could get a few hours' sleep before heading out to my first game.

I found my accommodation, but they did not seem aware of me. I presented emails confirming my booking and the woman still struggled.

"This is the price per night?" she asked me. "No, this is the price for the three nights I have booked". "How did you get such a price?"

She clearly wasn't happy, but we started the formalities as I handed over my passport. She then knocked meekly on a door, and again but no louder.

She then explained that she could not give me a receipt at this time, and that if she did not give me a receipt then I would not be able to stay because if I was seen by the authorities then they would make her pay for my stay.

The onion domes of Moscow
The onion domes of Moscow

She pointed to a notice in Russian in the wall. I did not even bother trying to read it as I knew there was no point. Interesting to see that the archaic Communist system and mentality is still prevalent.

I agreed to come back later.

A quick visit to Red Square and St Basil's and then it was time to head off to the Spartak stadium for my first game.

Ross Clegg

See Ross' photos of the 2018 Europa League Final

Copa del Rey photos

Saransk to Kazan

The Dark Side of Russia


Post a Comment

Previous Post Next Post