Russia politics: Quick View - Russia prepares to host 2018 football World Cup

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Country Data and Maps
Economist Intelligence Unit
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Politics, News Analysis, Forecast, Political stability
Political Geography


On January 22nd Kommersant, a daily newspaper, reported that the Federal Security Service (FSB) had ordered several "hazardous industries" in host cities of the FIFA World Cup to stop operations for the duration of the tournament (June 14th-July 15th).


The government and the president, Vladimir Putin, have been making increasing efforts to ensure the success of the tournament, which is the most high-profile event to be hosted in Russia since the Sochi Winter Olympics in 2014. The FIFA World Cup should contribute to Mr Putin's popularity after his expected win in the March presidential election. However, this will depend on the tournament running smoothly; any reports of corruption related to deals in the preparation of the World Cup similar to those in the run-up to the Sochi Olympics could spark a scandal (public concern about corruption has been growing in recent months).

Fears about Russian hooligans appear unfounded, as Russian law enforcement has ample experience of riot control (including in sports events) and will probably be fully deployed. Media reports about the FSB closing industries in host cities is another indicator of the importance given to the smooth running of the event from a foreign-policy perspective as the Kremlin seeks to ensure that foreign fans and media do not comment negatively. These reports are also to reassure the international public that security will be the main concern of the authorities.

Local governors are under pressure to make sure that the infrastructure is ready on time and that the tournament takes place without incident. Although success could bring political dividends in the future, any scandal or issues related to the organisation of the event will make governors more vulnerable at a time when Mr Putin could start yet another gubernatorial reshuffle.

The economic impact of the World Cup should be small, with an estimated boost to GDP of just 0.2 percentage points during April-September. The (short-term) economic impact will for the most part be felt in Moscow (the capital) and St Petersburg, but provincial cities with modern infrastructure already in place (such as Kazan, Ekaterinburg and Sochi) will also benefit from increased tourism revenue and recognition.

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