Russia: Investment equals opportunity
Our World | On 31, Aug 2011
Football fans will be aware of Samuel Eto’os recent move to Russian club Anzhi Makhachkala reportedly for a deal earning Eto’o a staggering £8.7 million per season. This figure will make him the world’s highest paid footballer. Some would say that it is another high paid signing that the Russians have made since the World Cup bid was won/bought.
The number of bids for the 21st World Cup in 2018 was the most contested in history. Far be it from me to ponder exactly what Russia did to win the appointment as host nation! But there’s no ignoring that Russia are trying to raise their profile on the international stage.
The old stereotypes of life in the Russian capital being riddled with corruption come to mind. Moscow still maintains a reputation for social inequality, there are significant increases in the crime rate – however the fact remains that tourists are increasing by 10% a year. A lot of money is being spent on updating multi-language websites to improve its image and I have no doubt that nothing will be allowed to tarnish the country’s image during the summer of 2018 and no expense will be spared – new stadiums, early completion of airport extensions – football is at the heart of millions of Russian’s lives and there is too much riding on this one.
It’s most interesting to see that Putin himself stated that football fans will be allowed to enter the country without a visa in order “to enjoy the tournament and get to know Russia and its history and culture”. I just hope that proves to be a success and can continue thereafter – it would certainly help encourage corporate group events there no end. Currently the cost and inconvenience of being without your passport make travel there prohibitive in many cases.
I think a lot of perceptions will change. St Petersburg, not just about its architecture and operas, is also well known for its bands, underground clubs and bohemian lifestyle. Great hotels, fabulous dining and of course legendary for its White Nights when the long summer days see the sun barely dipping below the horizon.
St.P’s network of canals and baroque and neo-classical architecture give the city a European flavour – it was this city that encouraged democracy when the tide began to change by breaking down the barriers and exploring the possibilities of consumerism and creativity.
Everyone likes to celebrate a win and in Russia drinking is far more important than eating. The national drink, vodka, is taken as a shot at every occasion possible. In rural life it is often used as a currency. Drinking prowess is a matter of pride – no surprise therefore to learn that alcoholism is amongst the main health problems in the country. The World Cup 2018 is going to rock!
However, and it’s a big one, apart from the cost of a 35p ticket on the Moscow Metro – the two great cities of Moscow and St Petersburg are relatively expensive. I just hope this will be reviewed to accommodate the fans. To borrow an old communist slogan “the future is bright!”.
Joking aside Russia is focusing its efforts on raising the profile of the country and with that comes large investment. I’m not saying we should all flock there straight away but it certainly is a destination worth watching over the next few years as the development will be amazing.
Susan Sexton, Events Team