Football Supporters Europe, coordinator of the programme Fans’ Embassies at 2018 FIFA World Cup Russia, is monitoring the level of safety, security and services of the tournament. The end of the first week of the competition provides the opportunity to carry out a preliminary assessment.
During the whole tournament, FSE is coordinating and facilitating a whole range of fans’ activities, with the support of the Russian Football Union, Rosturism and the host cities. The 1st week of the 2018 FIFA World Cup Russia has seen FSE member associations and partners organizing Fans’ Embassies, fanwalks and friendly matches between supporters in every host city of the competition. Fans and supporters’ organisations from 20 participating nations are involved in the project.
Conditions for visiting and local supporters since the tournament kicked off on 14 June 2018 are satisfying, with hardly any tensions and sufficient level of services in the stadiums. The overall feedback from the supporters associations involved in the Fans’ Embassies at 2018 FIFA World Cup Russia programme is positive, all of them highlighting the enthusiastic atmosphere enjoyed by the visiting supporters in the host cities.
Some challenges remain nevertheless, with disparities observed between stadium facilities and hosting conditions. Food service in both Moscow stadiums, with several shortages observed, is not acceptable at this level of competition. Banners and flags display, a crucial element of the fan culture in most participating countries, have been removed from the lower tier in some stadiums such as Volgograd and Rostov, while it was accepted to place them there in others. Fans travelling to the Saint-Petersburg stadium are still suffering for unreasonable waiting time at the gates, having to queue for up to 45min. In Kazan on 20 June 2018, Iranian female fan activists were held up, thoroughly searched and their FIFA-sanctioned banners confiscated by the local authorities. And on the overall tournament level, registration requirements in every host city are still creating a lot of confusion for travelling fans.
Consistency in the security set-up is in the best interest of both travelling fans and organizers. FSE hopes that remaining disparities can be addressed by the tournament organizers before the end of the group stage.