Putin's big match special

Roman Osharov assesses the challenges Russia faces in hosting the World Cup

The World Today
2 minute READ

Roman Osharov

Former Academy Fellow, Russia and Eurasia Programme, Chatham House

This summer Russia will host the FIFA World Cup. The tournament is the first major opportunity for a display of Russian ‘soft power’ since the Ukraine crisis sent relations between Moscow and the West into deep freeze. Moscow is hoping to show a different face to the world and demonstrate its ability to deliver a safe tournament. At the same time, the World Cup is an opportunity to boost patriotic feelings at home after the now certain re-election of President Vladimir Putin in March.

Much has changed since Russia hosted the 2014 Winter Olympic Games in the Black Sea resort of Sochi. That event, which took place in a different era in Russian relations with the West, provided a hook for critics of Vladimir Putin and amplified some of Russia’s weaknesses.

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