#WorldCup: What is Russia spending nearly US$12bn on?

Find out what #Russia is spending nearly US$12 billion on. Source: Shutterstock.

The 2018 FIFA World Cup in Russia is drawing near, and the excitement from football fans around the world is picking up.

The 2018 FIFA World Cup will be the 21st FIFA World Cup, and it will be hosted in 11 cities in Russia.

Among them are Kaliningrad, Kazan, Moscow, Nizhny Novgorod, Rostov-on-Don, Saint Petersburg, Samara, Saransk, Sochi, Volgograd, and Yekaterinburg. Moscow will host 12 games at two different venues.

32 teams will take part in the competition: Russia and 13 national teams will represent the European zone, five national teams from the African zone, 10 from Asia and South America, and three from the North American zone.

Moscow expects to welcome over one million international visitors, and more than three billion people from all over the world are expected to tune in during the games.

Between now and the start of the tournament, let’s take a closer look at how Russia is prepping ahead.

Multi-billion dollar investment

A whopping total of US$11.8 billion has been spent on hosting the tournament, and a chunk of the budget was invested in building a handful of stadiums.

12 stadiums will host a total of 65 matches from June 14, 2018, to July 15, 2018.

Moscow’s Luzhniki stadium where the matches of the 2018 FIFA World Cup will be held. Source: Shutterstock.

Out of 12 stadiums used for the tournament, three (Luzhniki, Yekaterinburg, and Sochi) have been extensively renovated and the other nine stadiums to be used are brand new.

Luzhniki, which will be the focal point of the 2018 FIFA World Cup as it will host both the opening as well as the final matches, recently received the green standard certificate.

It is the first stadium in Russia to have such a certificate.

“In accordance with FIFA regulations, each World Cup stadium must attain a certificate confirming their sustainability. The basic principles of rating include water conservation, energy efficiency, transport access, comfort and quality of surroundings, waste management, environmentally friendly materials, conservation of biodiversity, and access for people with limited mobility,” RT wrote.

Water-saving technology at Luzhniki stadium allows the venue to save 490,000 liters of water over the course of just one match at full power.

Also, LED lamps installed in the venue will allow an electricity saving of 70 percent.

Infrastructural facilities get good

But in all the best ways and for all the best reasons.

According to this FIFA fact sheet, plenty of infrastructure facilities have been upgraded.

For example, the Khrabrovo airport in Kaliningrad got a reconditioned and extended runway in January 2018. Its terminal’s refurbishment is expected to completed any day now.

A photo taken on May 12, 2018, shows the security check at the entrance of the newly built Platov Airport outside of the Southern Russian city of Rostov-on-Don. Source: AFP.

In the city of Volgograd, the Gumrak airport will open a new terminal this month while an existing one is being refurbished, according to CAPA’s Global Airport Construction Database.

Meanwhile, Russia also added three new metro stations, reconstructed 31 railway stations in the 11 host cities, and built 12 roads and junctions.

Old, new tech assistance

For the first time in a FIFA World Cup tournament, Russia will use video assistant referees (VAR) in the 2018 FIFA World Cup matches.

The tech was approved by the FIFA Council in March 2018.

The video assistant referee system is placed beside the pitch before the Club World Cup semi-final football match between Mexico’s Club America and Spain’s Real Madrid at Yokohama International stadium. Source: AFP.

The video assistant referee (VAR) is a football assistant referee who reviews decisions made by the head referee with the use of video footage and a headset for communication.

The official signal for a video review is the referee making the outline of a rectangle with his index fingers (indicating a video screen).

The process begins with the video assistant referee(s) and the assistant video assistant referee (AVAR) reviewing the play in question on a bank of monitors in the video operation room (VOR) with the assistance of the replay operator (RO).

Video assistant members check monitors at a video operations room ahead of the FIFA U-20 World Cup round of 16 football match between Mexico and Senegal in Incheon. Source: AFP.

If the VAR finds nothing during the check, then communication with the referee is unnecessary, which is called a “silent check.”

If the VAR believes there has been a potential clear error, he or she will contact the referee with that judgment.

Beefing up security

Amidst hooliganism fears and terrorist threats, the organizer is doing everything possible to ensure the matches are held in a safe and peaceful atmosphere, and to protect football fans heading to the country.

This includes working with the UK police.

Less than a month to go. Who’s counting down? Source: Shutterstock.

“We are ready to continue cooperation with the Russian police in order to ensure the security of the tournament … We will continue to offer our support and advice on working with fans coming to the World Cup from the United Kingdom,” UK Deputy Chief Constable Mark Roberts told Sputnik.

To add on, security forces have been rehearsing for emergencies at the Fisht stadium in Sochi in the weeks leading up to the 2018 FIFA World Cup.

The Russian government has also set up a special operational headquarters to coordinate the police, the military presence, the intelligent services, and the emergency services.

Drones will also be flown around the stadiums to pre-empt, detect, and combat law-breaking or attacks.

Russian services take part in a simulation of the riot at Krestovsky Stadium. Source: Shutterstock.

At the time of writing, 86 percent of 1,300 hotels in Moscow have been booked out for the period of the 2018 FIFA World Cup.

Russia will kick the tournament off on Thursday, June 14, 2018, at the Luzhniki Stadium in Moscow.