In Russia recently launched the Confederations Cup — a dress rehearsal for the world Cup 2018. Amid various political scandals, this tournament is intended to raise Russia’s international prestige. But if you look “behind the scenes”, you can find a lot of unpleasant aspects.
The Russian capital welcomes the guests and participants of the Confederations Cup. There are flags and posters, informing about the upcoming international soccer tournament. In some subway stations there were red boards indicating the way to the stadium “Spartak”. Before the red-and-white arena in the North-West of the city, meanwhile, ends the work on beautification of the area.
However, in the city centre is very limited traffic, and construction work, apparently, will last all summer and even longer. Football tournament with participation of eight national teams is seen in Russia primarily as a dress rehearsal for the world Cup, which should happen next year.
For the Russian leadership the Olympic games 2014 in Sochi and the future championship are the first demonstration projects designed to strengthen their international prestige. The decision to grant Russia the right to organize these great sporting competitions was made before the Ukrainian crisis. However, in the closing day of Olympics in 2014, President Vladimir Putin told security officials and the defence Ministry to start a “work to return Crimea to Russia”, as he later said in a propaganda film.
After the annexation of Crimea, the start of the war in Eastern Ukraine and the crash of the Malaysian aircraft flight MH17 in territory occupied by the separatists, Russia found itself in international isolation. In 2014, it was hard to imagine that a football team going to the world Cup in Russia. Since then, however, in international politics there have been many changes. Turmoil in the Western democracies pushed the Ukrainian crisis on the backburner, and now there is no doubt that the tournament will be held in Russia — even despite the political situation and the numerous scandals.
Foreign fans at the Confederations Cup is almost there
Thus, the Moscow, taking the Confederations Cup, is preparing for its “main exit” in a year. The main issue is not a show, but rather the technical aspects. It is the preparation of stadiums, organization of transportation and security issues. Russia will come a bit foreign fans, although Russia especially for them, abolished the visa regime.
The organization of sale of tickets for matches also left much to be desired. So far 16 games in Moscow, Saint-Petersburg, Sochi and Kazan were sold for a total of about 300 thousand tickets. These figures were announced Vitaly Mutko, who until recently held the post of Minister of sport, and now is Deputy Prime Minister for sport and the President of the Russian football Union. According to him, he expects stadiums will be completed by 30-60%.
“The confederations Cup is always a problem in this regard. So it was in Brazil, and South Africa — on their teams and top matches people go and rest — not so” — said Mutko.
The main star of the upcoming bar will be Cristiano Ronaldo. And the Chileans Arturo Vidal and Alexis Sanchez to the delight of fans on Friday took part in a friendly game against Russia. World champion Germany will arrive without major stars, calling into its ranks mainly young and inexperienced players.
It is clear that the sporting value of the Confederations Cup is small. This is why in Moscow. However, the team-the owner has big ambitions. Good performance at this tournament would be a real triumph for the not-too-successful Russian players. So on the eve of the tournament, as expected, radiate optimism. According to them, they aim to win the Confederations Cup. “There’s no other way,” explained the defender Giorgi Jikia. “Every player in the team is confident that we can win the Confederations Cup,” said Viktor Vasin. The Russian team of this tournament will also be a “dress rehearsal” for the 2018 world Cup.
Corruption and racism
The tournament begins on Saturday. The opening of the tournament and the first game team Russia will be held in Putin’s hometown Saint Petersburg. The stadium there is located on the shores of the Gulf of Finland on Krestovsky island and is somewhat reminiscent of a flying saucer. The history of this stadium can also be called mystical: its construction took ten years and became a symbol of architectural errors and corruption.
Thus, in the construction plan had been amended several times, and the cost of it amounted to the total of 754 million euros. These figures lead the Fund to fight corruption, founded by opposition leader Alexei Navalny. Staff FBC has rasschitany this amount simply by examining the results of all open tenders and the amounts of their respective orders.
Authorities were called to a different amount — 673 million euros. Navalny has called the stadium “a bottomless pit” and expressed confidence that a significant portion of the funds allocated for the construction were stolen. The lawyer of FBK Love Sable believes in turn that the actual cost far exceeded the above-mentioned 754 million euros. “There were signed new contracts, but the construction quality did not improve, and the money was misappropriated,” she notes. By the way, the FCO has successfully won a few cases concerning violations during the various tenders.
“The construction cost of the stadium is quite adequate, — said, in turn, Vice-Governor of St. Petersburg Igor Albin. — Yes, it would be cheaper if it were built faster if I wouldn’t have four times to amend the plan”. Last year Albin moved our own office to the stadium, when it became clear that the pace of construction is behind schedule for the whole year. “Engineers and builders made a real feat, — he stressed. They saved the reputation of Saint-Petersburg”.
However, part of this “feat” is, for example, the use of slave labor from North Korea living in inhuman living conditions. One of them, as they say, even died. In addition, even FIFA has acknowledged that he had received information about the use of labour force from North Korea in the course of construction. While preparing for the Olympics in Sochi working conditions was a big problem. Since then, the situation has not improved.
Trouble was accompanied by the construction of the stadium on Krestovsky island up to the very end. So, roll-out field, the same field at the stadium in the German Gelsenkirchen, was supposed to be a true masterpiece. But planning mistakes were made. The area near the stadium where the field would have to “rest” between games, built trade stands. As a result, problems with the quality of the pitch in early may, the audience could, for example, to see how in the course of the game between “Zenit” and “Terek” in the air fly whole segments of the lawn. In the end, the last test game was simply cancelled. At the end of may it became evident that to save the lawn will fail and I had to put a new.
“This stadium is to blame, says the head of St. Petersburg Committee for tourism Andrey Pushkarev. But he certainly became a new landmark of the city.” He hoped that the Confederations Cup and the 2018 world Cup will be St. Petersburg additional advertising and will attract more tourists. However, he is counting on guests not from the West but from China. “In China, the interest in football is growing, and we expect a large number of Chinese tourists,” says Muscari. Recently on signs not only in St. Petersburg but also in Moscow airports there were inscriptions in Chinese. Maybe it’s another sign of Russia’s pivot to its Eastern neighbor.