MOSCOW – As Russia prepares for the 2018 FIFA World Cup, the people of St. Petersburg were able on Tuesday to attend the unveiling of a countdown clock currently marking 100 days until the start of the tournament.
Amid calls for a boycott of the tourney, security problems, the threat of hooligans and rampant corruption, hosting the event has not been easy for Russia, but other developments in the run-up to the World Cup have silenced critics.
Even Russian President Vladimir Putin, who prefers judo and skiing to soccer, was encouraged to kick around a soccer ball a bit inside the Kremlin with FIFA president Gianni Infantino, according to a video released Tuesday by FIFA.
In terms of construction, Russia has performed an unprecedented feat, building 10 stadiums specifically to host the World Cup in addition to remodeling two existing stadiums – Luzhniki and Yekaterinburg.
As for security, Putin emphasized in recent weeks that both the radicalization of youth and terrorism are threats that loom over any international competition, calling on security forces to increase precautions.
Another issue has been the cost of hotel rooms during the World Cup as prices have skyrocketed in cities like Rostov, Volgograd and Saransk for fans and journalists alike.
However, the Russian organizing committee has taken quick action on the matter and the authorities have already penalized numerous hotels for raising prices unfairly.