Bringing a World Cup tournament to life requires meticulous planning and organisation, but most of all, it requires money.
Brazil put together a quite phenomenal tournament in 2014, but Russia is determined to go one better in four years’ time and is reportedly ready to spend $20 billion for 2018, per Alexander Smith of NBC News.
Smith reports that Russian president Vladimir Putin has devised a plan that will see World Cup stadiums and infrastructure cover an area of 1,500 miles, and it’s the country’s wealth that will bring his ambitious plans to life.
When Russia was pushing to land the bid for the 2018 tournament, the country sold FIFA with its pitch of a history-making tournament (via Owen Gibson of The Guardian).
"We can promise you a World Cup you will never forget," said Vitaly Mutko, the Russian sports minister, per Gibson. "Let us make history together."
Russia will have 11 World Cup host cities in 2018, one fewer than Brazil had, and each of them will boast at least one FIFA-approved stadium.
Each stadium usually costs between $200 million and $800 million, according to Smith.
Despite these astronomical figures, the real concern is how the stadiums will be used after the tournament—not so much in the football-mad cities of Moscow and Saint Petersburg, but in the east where football’s popularity is a far cry from Brazil’s countrywide lust for the game.
Having hosted the Winter Olympics this year, Russia has been left with a number of white elephant buildings from its reported $51 billion Games, and the World Cup might be no different.
Sports economist Andrew Zimbalist remarked upon just how devastating an effect the Sochi Games had on Russia’s economy, per Smith.
"Sochi was an economic disaster for Russia. They've got a lot of white elephants on their hands in Sochi that they don't know what to do with. All the hotel firms there are currently trying to get the state to buy them out.”
The World Cup could be similarly damaging to Russia’s economy, though it appears Russia doesn’t need to spend so much to host a glamorous tournament.
As BT Sport’s Andy May revealed, the cost of the 2014 World Cup is almost half what the Russians plan to spend in 2018:
Official Brazil government document sent to me claims World Cup cost for infrastructure and stadia is $11.5billion #Brazil2014— Andy May (@andymaytvradio) July 13, 2014
The Brazilians still managed to put on a show like no other, so it's fair to wonder if Putin’s ruthless spending is a little bit needless.
When it comes to the tournament, though, we won’t be complaining from a fan’s point of view, as it’s bound to be a spectacular festival of football.
Maybe it’s the fact that Brazil’s installment of the tournament has arguably been the best ever that’s made Russia so determined to one-up it, but it’s a very expensive statement of intent.