Travelling to Russia 2018 FIFA World Cup from Africa
Russia, the largest country on earth will be hosting the 2018 FIFA World cup. This will be the first time Russia will be hosting this event and as the day draws near, millions of fans worldwide are making arrangements to travel to Russia to watch this event. No wonder, that a lot of fans who plan to travel to 2018 World Cup, are interested how expensive it is to visit and how much to budget for the upcoming trip to Russia. While you’re entertaining the thought of travelling to watch the games, you should spend quality time to plan your trip. A very good understanding of the cost, the Russian terrain, cultural differences, the do’s and don’ts and so on will enable you enjoy the entire experience.
First of all, let’s consider the basic things you need for this trip:
The Russian Federation has given a visa waiver for different Nationals who intend to travel and watch the FIFA world cup. The statement from the Russian Embassy Website (Nigeria) reads: “Nigerian citizens visiting FIFA World Cup (June 14 – July 15, 2018) are entitled to have visa-free multiple entries to the Russian Federation.” This implies that visas will not be required for this trip but however, another means of identification, which you will get upon registration on FIFA’s website called FAN-ID will be required amongst other things for this journey. A detailed instruction on how to obtain a FAN-ID will be discussed later in this article. However, the following will be required of you when you arrive on Russian soil:
Entry: You are free to enter within 10 days prior to the first sport event.
Departure: You are free to stay after 10 days following the ultimate event.
Visitors/Fans should have:
- air tickets: A valid return ticket
- international passport: A valid passport with at least 6 months’ validity
- FAN ID: Will issued by the official providers
Air Tickets: The airfare cost depends on which countries you are travelling from and to which cities in Russia you are travelling to. Travelling from West Africa or Nigeria will cost nothing from $900 upwards. However, the secret to getting very cheap tickets is to start searching on time and also looking out for airlines that have running promo. In any case, there are lots of different tools for finding budget flights. First of all, check the website of the airline to confirm what prices they fly and if they have any ongoing promo and secondly is to use a scanning tool like skyscanner.net to search hundreds of flights for very cheap deals to your destination. A final option is to contact your travel agent.
International Passport: A valid international passport will be required for fan who intends visit Russia to watch the game live. To avoid stories that touches the heart when you arrive in Russia and you will not be allowed to travel out from your country without one. Also ensure that your passport is valid till February 2019. Anything less of these may spell disaster for you. If your passport will expire before February 2019, you may attempt to do a renewal of the passport if the laws of your country allows you to do it.
FAN ID: Fan ID is obtained after you have purchased a valid ticket to watch a game at the event. The price of tickets varies based on the type of game being played at the tournament. Normally, at the group stages of the tournament, the costs are cheapest.
After purchasing the tickets from FIFA.com, register for your FAN ID and ensure you receive a confirmation for the registration. You will be emailed a FAN ID after your registration is approved or same can be obtained from an authorised Distribution Centres. This FAN ID is required to fly to Russia and can be used to travel within Russia. Note that travel here is not just going anywhere you wish but travelling to a city you have purchased the tickets to watch. Also note you will have to take this FAN ID to the stadium when you are in Russia. Without your FAN ID, you will not be admitted into the stadium to watch any match.
If you love travelling but have limited money, you must have a budget and be disciplined to stick to plans. There are lots of things to spend money on. It is very important priorities are given to important things like shelter, feeding and getting tickets to view your favourite games. Planning your travel on time saves you a lot of stress and money. You want to make sure you make you bookings and reservations way ahead of time. Some things to budget about are below:
- Return ticket to Russia
- Tournament Tickets
Return Ticket to Russia: This is the most expensive part of the budget depending on where you are travelling from. People traveling from European cities will likely pay less to get to Russia than those travelling from elsewhere. Also, it is very important to finalise travel plans early and make reservations for flight as prices skyrocket days before travel. Make sure you spend good time to determine which of the airports and city you will wish to arrive and stay during the tournament. Also bear in mind it is cheaper to fly on longer flights that may likely have stops in between than to fly directly.
Accommodation: This is very important as well. As an African, each time I travel, I always look out for families and friends who I can stay with when I travel. Knowing someone to stay with most times will save you lots of money and also provide you will a guide as to the do’s and don’ts in the city. However, sometimes, the option of using a Youth Hostel, Bread & Breakfast or even AirBNB arises which is a very good and cheap option as well. Staying in a hotel is the most expensive of all these. The research I made when I was developing this article showed that St Petersburg is the most expensive city in Russia to get accommodation in. In this respect, it will be a good thing to make reservations beforehand or make plans to travel out of the city after your game. A user in TripAdvisor noted that some entrepreneurs are going to organise tent camps with basic facilities at a good price in Moscow for example and the government plans to make a camp in problematic Saransk city (Accommodation is very difficult in Saransk).
Tournament Tickets: It is very advisable to buy all your tickets before travelling or even if you change your mind to buy tickets after you’ve arrived in Russia, to buy such from FIFA.com website or an authorised distributor. Buying from touts will limit your possibilities of viewing such games as admission into the stadium will be strictly managed by FAN ID and there is a lot of possibility that the tout reselling to you will not be able to help you link the ticket to your ID. Be wise. Personally, I think seeing two or three games in Russia is not a bad idea. Choose the category of tickets you want wisely and also ensure you bring along your FAN ID when coming to watch the game. As a safety measure, always keep your passport with you all the time.
Feeding/Refreshments/Drinks: These are very important aspect of the whole thing. If you stay in a hotel, it is always expensive to use the hotel restaurants and it is advisable to eat outside the hotel. I personally travel with things for tea and then will have to buy bread in the morning to cater for breakfast. Most hotel will also provide you with breakfast. However, according to research, it is advisable to budget thirty dollars for feeding every day you intend to be in Russia – this I know is way too much. Also, do not drink too much. Consuming too much alcohol may get you arrested if you drive drunk or you’ll be denied access into the stadium. It is advisable to drink a little or nothing during the World Cup.
Mobility: Once you land in Moscow, the very first thing you are going to pay for is transportation to the hotel. According to a blogger, the best and cheapest way to get from the airport in Moscow to the city centre is to take an Uber. An Uber ride from the airport (Domodedovo or Sheremetyevo) in Moscow has a fixed price of 850 Rubles. Both airports in Moscow have a free Wi-Fi inside the terminals, so you should be able to request an Uber even if you don’t have data. Taxi is another option, but be prepared to significantly overpay. Taxi drivers in Russia (a lot of them are illegal as well) really like to rip people off. Once they smell a fresh blood see that you don’t speak Russian, they’ll try to charge you as much as you’ll let them. Just walk away from them or try to bargain until you are comfortable with the asking price.
If you are going to attempt games in the other cities besides Moscow, you need to keep in mind transportation expenses to get there. Russia will offer free ground transportation (by bus or train) between host cities during the 2018 World Cup for ticket-holders. It’s an awesome news for the fans, which will help to cut expenses a little bit. If we look back at the 2014 World Cup, ground transportation between host cities in Brazil was a headache for the fans.
Others: This includes sightseeing, going to clubs, shopping and so on. This depends on your taste and what you have budgeted for the trip. I will advise a visit to another city at least.
Arrival in Russia:
According to Independent.co.uk, on entering Russia, you must sign a migration card, which is produced electronically at passport control. The card is in two identical parts. One part will be retained by the immigration officer on arrival. You should keep the other part with your passport as you’ll need this when you leave Russia. Make sure you’ve signed your passport before you travel.
Register in every host city you visit within 24 hours of arrival. The registration is normally done by your hotel or guest house, but it’s your responsibility to make sure that this has been done.
Carry your passport with you at all times. Russian police have the authority to stop people and request identity and travel documents at any time.
Declarations at Immigration:
There are no restrictions on bringing laptop computers for personal use into Russia. However, Russian border officials can demand to inspect any electronic device (including installed software) on departure.
If your medicines contain barbiturate, codeine, sibutramine, anabolic steroids, androgens and other sex hormones, analgesic (tramadol), psychostimulants or other restricted substances, you must present a doctor’s letter confirming the need for each medication to authorities when you arrive in Russia. A notarised translation into Russian is also required.
You can be arrested for attempting to leave the country with antiques, even if they were legally purchased from licensed vendors. Items like artwork, icons, samovars, rugs, military medals and antiques, must have certificates indicating they do not have historical or cultural value. You may obtain certificates from the Russian Ministry of Culture.
In the City:
Frequently, criminal gangs collude with the local police and operate with near impunity. Foreigners have become victims of harassment, mistreatment, and extortion by law-enforcement and other officials. Police do not need to show probable cause in order to stop, question, or detain individuals. Do not pick up hitchhikers. You may be assaulted or arrested for unwittingly transporting narcotics. Traffic police may stop motorists to collect fraudulent cash fines on the spot.
Never agree to go to a bar or club with someone you have just met on the street. Criminals have drugged some travellers at bars, while others have taken strangers back to their lodgings, where they drugged, robbed and/or assaulted them.
Keep your passport in a safe place on your person, and not in jacket pockets or in handbags and/or backpacks in case of theft. You should also leave a copy of your passport, visa, and travel and insurance documents with family or friends at home.
Keep your vehicle doors locked and your bags out of sight to prevent opportunistic bag-snatching if you’re stopped at traffic lights. Avoid carrying large sums of cash. High-profile armed robberies are an almost daily occurrence. The attacks usually take place while the victims are either entering or exiting banks.
Preferred targets for criminals include underground walkways, public transportation and transportation hubs, tourist sites, restaurants and markets, hotel rooms and residences (even when occupied and locked). Petty crime, pick-pocketing and mugging (sometimes committed by groups of children) is common, especially around tourist attractions such as Red Square, the Ismailovsky tourist market and the Moscow or St Petersburg Metros.
If you lose your original passport during the World Cup, this will affect your ability to use your match ticket and Fan-ID as your passport details are interlinked.
Photographing any military establishment or site of strategic importance (including airports) is banned. You are likely to be detained for questioning or arrested if you are caught.
“Turkey Drop” Scam: An individual “accidentally” drops money on the ground in front of an intended victim, while an accomplice either waits for the money to be picked up, or picks up the money him/herself and offers to split it with the pedestrian. Then the victim is accused of stealing the money. Do not pick up the money. Walk quickly away from the scene.
Airport Scam: A con artist asks you to watch his bag, then extorts money or other valuables to avoid hassle with the police. Never agree to watch a bag that belongs to a stranger. Exercise extreme caution in crowds and open markets. Criminals use various techniques to distract the victims, including by distracting their victims with requests for help. In such situations, walk away quickly.
Alcohol won’t be available at stadium during matches. The sale and consumption of alcohol in glass containers will be banned on the evening and day of matches in certain locations in host cities. The sale of alcohol from shops is restricted, typically from 11pm to 8am. You can be jailed immediately for driving under the influence of alcohol.
It is illegal to pay directly for general transactions with dollars or euros.
Only change money at banks, hotels and recognised exchange kiosks. You will need to show your passport and visa to change money. It is an offence to change money from street traders.
In the summer months, there is a risk of forest fires that could affect the Moscow region. The air quality in areas near active fires may deteriorate due to heavy smoke and affect travellers with respiratory ailments.
Do not visit tattoo parlours or piercing services due to the risk of HIV and hepatitis infection.
Tap water is not drinkable throughout the Russian Federation but bottled mineral water is widely available.
Getting around in Russia is often difficult for persons with mobility issues. Many sidewalks are narrow and uneven. Crossing streets in large cities can be difficult, since it usually requires the use of a pedestrian underpass which includes stairs, steep ramps, and no elevators. Mobility is usually easier in major cities such as Moscow and St Petersburg Metro is generally not accessible to persons with disabilities. Public transportation is not accommodating to people with disabilities.
Homosexuality is legal in Russia, but there is still intolerance among some sections of the population. Be careful about public displays of affection.
In June 2013 a law banning the promotion of “non-traditional sexual relations” entered into force, but the definition and scope of prohibited activity is vague. Foreign nationals convicted under this law could face arrest and detention, fines and deportation.
Violence against the LGBTI community has increased sharply since the law banning propaganda was passed, including entrapment and torture of young gay men by neo-Nazi gangs and the murder of multiple individuals due to their sexual orientation. (US)
Harassment and assaults are prevalent, particularly against foreigners of Asian and African descent. Some victims have died.
Racially motivated assaults occur throughout Russia. Attacks are often perpetrated by skinhead groups or ultra-nationalists. There have been several large rallies by nationalists and neo-Nazis to protest against the presence of foreigners (particularly people from Africa, Central Asia and the Caucasus region) in Russia. Take extra care if you or your travel partner(s) are of Asian or African descent.
A Final Word:
As you prepare for the world cup, try as much as possible to get as much information as you can get. Start now to plan your trip. Wishing you all a very pleasant trip to Russia.