“Kaliningrad, which will host four World Cup matches this month, is a peculiar Russian exclave on the Baltic Sea. Wedged between Poland and Lithuania, both members of NATO and the European Union, it is geographically separated from the rest of Russia—a Free Economic Zone (FEZ) that has earned it status as the ‘Russian Hong Kong.’ …” New Republic
“Ever since Russia won the 2018 World Cup bid it has been surrounded by controversy regarding hooligans, racism, homophobia and corrupt. We went to Russia to find out for ourselves if these worries are justified, what the levels of expectations are and what type of World Cup Russia will host.” YouTube: Should You Be Afraid Of The Russian World Cup?
“The World Cup kicks off June 14 in Moscow with a meeting between the two lowest-ranked teams in the field, which, in some ways, is quite appropriate. The competition is meant to be a crescendo, one whose drama and defining moments don’t occur until the very end. With the way the draw and schedule worked out, that’s precisely how Russia 2018 is shaping up to play out. Russia vs. Saudi Arabia will be a massive 90 minutes for the host nation, which can set its tone for the tournament in front of its partisan crowd. But once it’s over, the focus will shift to the traditional powers and the individual superstars who figure to have plenty of say in determining the 2018 world champion. …” SI
“The 2018 World Cup might be missing some big nations, but that’s what makes this tournament the best in sports. Brazil are looking to bounce back from a travesty in 2014, while Spain, Argentina and France are hoping to dethrone defending champions Germany and their typically deep squad. Can Belgium or Portugal make a splash? Do England have what it takes to challenge too? ESPN FC is previewing every team ahead of the opening game on June 14 in English, Spanish and Portuguese to give a truly global feel to our team profiles. Here’s what you need to know about the 32 teams set to do battle in Russia beginning on June 14. …”
“The 2018 FIFA World Cup will be the 21st FIFA World Cup, a quadrennial international football tournament contested by the men’s national teams of the member associations of FIFA. It is scheduled to take place in Russia from 14 June to 15 July 2018, after the country was awarded the hosting rights on 2 December 2010. This will be the first World Cup held in Europe since the 2006 tournament in Germany, and the first ever to be held in Eastern Europe. All of the stadium venues are in European Russia, to keep travel time manageable. The final tournament will involve 32 national teams, which include 31 teams determined through qualifying competitions and the automatically qualified host team. Of the 32 teams, 20 will be making back-to-back appearances following the last tournament in 2014, including defending champions Germany, while Iceland and Panama will both be making their first appearances at a FIFA World Cup. A total of 64 matches will be played in 12 venues located in 11 cities. The final will take place on 15 July at the Luzhniki Stadium in Moscow. …” Wikipedia
“The 2018 World Cup is now only weeks away. The 32 countries have until the May 14 deadline to name their provisional squads for Russia with managers all over the globe currently scratching their heads as they bid to whittle down their long list of possibles and probables in time for the final June 4 cut off, just 10 days before the opener in Moscow. However, many teams – England included, – have already pledged to name their lucky few earlier with Gareth Southgate set to pick his 23 before the final pre-tournament friendlies with Nigeria and Costa Rica. …” Independent (Video)
Lokomotiv Moscow fans wave flags during the 2017 Russian Super Cup football match against Spartak Moscow
“With the World Cup kicking off in less than a month and tensions with the west at their worst level in decades, Observer writers and Russia experts go behind the spin to analyse the host nation’s social and political landscape. Part 1. Racism. ‘Young fans see the dominance of far-right chants. Anyone who challenges it faces a threat of violence’. It is the most politically charged World Cup in recent memory: Russia, resurgent under Vladimir Putin, is set to host the 32-team tournament next month amid scandals ranging from sports doping to spy poisonings. Relations between Moscow and London are at their coolest since the cold war and the recent events in Salisbury even led to brief speculation (aided by Boris Johnson) that England could skip the tournament, recalling the Olympics boycotts of the 1980s. …”