No matter what your stance is on Qatar’s human rights record, the overriding sense of anger directed towards the 2022 FIFA world cup seems to be more about weather and timing than anything else. The furore surrounding the proposed season change is surely over the top when you consider this is a once in every four year event. Given that FIFA president Sepp Blatter has already stated the award of the 2022 tournament in Qatar may have been a mistake, a change in season is likely to be a one off rather than a precedent setter.
Whilst this country’s army of football fans, pundits and journalists alike find every reason imaginable to be upset about the award, some consideration must be taken into whether this anger is misdirected. Ok so the tournament would much more convenient for a whole host of nations if it was held in this country but that was never an option. England and the FA failed with their 2018 bid not a 2022 bid. Furthermore with such an enormous amount of time to prepare for the event surely any overriding worries can be put to bed with adequate planning and foresight from the Premier League and Football Association. There is even an argument to say that playing in the winter will offer England’s players the opportunity to play at their peak and before they are burnt out at the end of a long domestic campaign.
If misgivings about the competition being held in Qatar are morally or ethically based then that is an entirely different discussion and one that needs to be put on the back burner considering who is next to host the tournament. With focus on the international game being, up to this point, centred on 2022 it would appear that many have forgotten about 2018s hosts Russia. This is a country currently in a state of conflict, whose economics are far from stable and whose relationship with the west is at its lowest since the ‘Cold War’.
Again many hold moral objections to Russia being selected as hosts. There is even a remote possibility of the tournament being boycotted by certain countries after calls to do so were heard from current Ukrainian president Petro Poroshenko. Russian football is never too far away from controversy and Torpedo Moscow have just been ordered to play two games behind closed doors for racial abuse directed at Brazilian striker Hulk. This is just one incident in a long line of problems caused by racist chanting in Russian stadiums with neighbours CSKA Moscow’s conduct being called into question in 2013 when Yaya Toure suffered similar abuse in a Champions League tie. All of this will be worrying to many countries trying to qualify for 2018, none more so than the African nations.
Whilst the England team, along with everyone else, are yet to qualify for the tournament in 2018 there are travel issues to consider. Here are some of the key issues highlighted by www.gov.uk:
To enter Russia you’ll need a visa before travel. During periods of high demand, you should apply for your visa well in advance. From 10 December 2014 Russian diplomatic missions and the visa application centres in London and Edinburgh will collect scanned fingerprints from visa applicants above the age of 12.
Overstaying your visa without authorisation from the Federal Migration Authorities can result in a delay to your departure from Russia, fines, court hearings and possible deportation and a ban from re-entry. If you’re staying for more than 7 working days you must register with the local branch of the Federal Migration Service.
All foreign nationals entering Russia must sign a migration card, which is produced electronically at passport control in the major airports. You should keep the other part with your passport; you will need it when you leave Russia and if you are stopped by the police for an ID check during your stay. There are many hotels and hostels that will not check in guests if they don’t have the stamped white immigration card with them. If you lose the second part of the card you will be fined.
So getting in and out of Russia is no simple task. Forget Qatar 2022, Russia 2018 is just three years away and provides more than enough food for thought for those thinking of going and television viewers alike.