June 13, 2018
The FIFA World Cup is an international association football competition contested by the senior men’s national teams of the members of the Fédération Internationale de Football Association (FIFA), the sport’s global governing body. The championship has been awarded every four years since the inaugural tournament in 1930, with the exceptions of 1942 and 1946. The current champion is Germany, which won its fourth title at the 2014 tournament in Brazil. (Wikipedia)
The 2018 FIFA World Cup will be held from June 14 to July 15 in 11 cities in Russia, including Moscow and St. Petersburg. The World Cup will feature 32 national teams competing in 64 total matches. Individuals traveling to Russia at this time should expect increased police presence and enhanced security measures in and around the venues and city centers associated with the World Cup. Travelers should also be aware of the measles, ticket sales and fraud, visas, and transportation issues in host cities.
- Measles – An increase in measles cases has been reported in several countries in Europe, including those participating in the World Cup and in Russia. Measles is caused by a highly contagious virus that spreads from person-to-person via infectious droplets. Typical symptoms include fever, cough and a characteristic rash. The World Health Organization (WHO) is recommending people make sure their measles vaccine is up to date if planning travel to the World Cup (and other locations with outbreaks in Europe).
- Ticket Sales – Authorities are warning of ticket scams, especially those targeting foreigners. FIFA is the official seller of match tickets. Tickets purchased through other means will not be valid. Visitors should be aware of scams, fake ticket websites, and unlicensed ticket resellers.
- Fan ID – In addition to a valid match ticket, all attendees will need to apply for a FAN ID, an identification document required by Russian organizers. The card requires a picture, basic personal information, and the match ticket number, which serves as an extra layer of security put in place by Russian authorities and FIFA organizers.
- Visas and Lost Passports – All US citizens are required to have a visa to enter Russia. Passports must be valid for a minimum of six months after the expiry date of their visa or Fan ID. If a passport is lost or stolen, it must be reported to the Russian police. The police will issue a police report, the individual will show the police report if asked for identification. Visitors should note the only U.S. Embassy is in Moscow.
- Transportation – The distance between most host cities is significant, air travel is the quickest for travel time. Due to expected traffic and lane restrictions in host cities, travelers are encouraged to utilize public transportation as much as possible. Allocate additional travel time if using ground transportation in host cities, especially in Moscow and St. Petersburg.
Travel Advice for Russia
- Be wary of scams, especially those targeting foreigners visiting for the World Cup.
- Do not use “gypsy cabs” or marshrutkas (unmarked and unregulated taxis). Use only licensed taxis, which are required to have a yellow or orange lamp on the roof. Do not share a taxi (or rideshare) with a stranger.
- Avoid protests and demonstrations. Leave the area quickly and calmly at the first sign of a group (civilians and/or security personnel) forming.
- Follow all official directives and report any suspicious behavior or packages to the authorities.
- Use precautions to avoid petty and opportunistic crime such as pickpocketing and mugging. Keep your valuables out of sight. Check your bank statement frequently and do not use an ATM that appears to have been tampered with.
- Expect heightened security around popular tourist areas, hotels housing teams, on public transportation, and at public viewing areas.
- Electronic communications will be monitored (there should be no expectation of privacy).
- If approached by police, have appropriate identification ready. If hassled or solicited for a bribe, contact the closest US Embassy. Be aware that Russia is very strict when it comes to visa laws, so it is important to know how long you’re visa is for and be able to identify the expiration date for any security personnel who ask to see it.
Individuals in Western Europe should anticipate heightened security and exercise vigilance at public gatherings. A visible police presence can be expected at transport hubs, particularly rail stations, on days when the national teams of the relevant countries are involved in matches. Localized unrest and acts of vandalism are also possible around high-profile matches, though any such incidents are likely to remain small in scale.
Countries where World Cup matches will be publicly screened include:
- Belgium: Large-scale ‘fan zones’ have been banned in the capital Brussels.
- France: Public viewings have been banned without pre-approval and are only to be held in enclosed areas with adequate security control. The authorities have said that security measures at public gatherings will be equivalent to measures adopted during the Euro 2016 football tournament, which France hosted.
- Germany: In the capital Berlin a ‘fan mile’ will be located outside the Brandenburg Gate and Culture Brewery; in Frankfurt-am-Main (Hesse state) at the Commerzbank Arena, and in Munich (Bavaria state) at Olympia Lake.
- Spain: Screenings will take place at Plaza Alfonso Comin in Barcelona (Catalonia region).
- UK: Screenings will be held at Trafalgar Square in the capital London.
Travel Advice for Western Europe
- Anticipate heightened security at public gatherings linked to the 2018 FIFA World Cup. Follow all official directives and report any suspicious behavior or packages to the authorities.
- Expect a visible police presence at public transport hubs on high-profile match days.
- If attending a public screening, adopt basic precautions due of the increased risk of petty crime. Keep your valuables hidden at all times.
- Do not share a taxi or rideshare with someone you do not know.
As always, if you are abroad and in need of immediate assistance (medical or security related) please call International SOS at 215-942-8478 or UTPD at 512-471-4441.