With the World Cup 2018 in Russia is only a matter of days away, what can everybody look forward to, and how do you make the most of what is largely regarded as the greatest sporting event on the planet? Information is everywhere yet there still appears to be some confusion as to exactly what’s going on in terms of seeing games in the flesh.
Q – Can I still get my hands on a ticket?
A – Tickets sold out a long time ago; if you haven’t got one now, you’ve missed the bus I’m afraid.
Q – But I’ve seen some being offered for sale on social media?
A – Sure, this happens before every tournament as people who bought tickets early on have changed their plans, or simply want to sell the tickets on at a profit. But in addition to your ticket, you won’t be admitted into the stadium unless you have accompanying Fan ID.
Q – What is Fan ID?
A – The clue is in the name, it’s personalized identification issue to each fan to allow access to the stadium, together with your match ticket. Fan ID is issued by the Russian authorities free of charge.
Q – This is something new – what’s the point?
A – For starters it allows foreign fans visa-free entry into Russia for the duration of the tournament, as well as other benefits such as some free transport to host cities and on match days. It’s also a measure against ticket touting (scalping), to prevent the standard scenario of true fans having to pay over the odds for tickets on resale websites.
Q – How do I get a Fan ID?
A – You must purchase a ticket from FIFA directly, or via one of their approved outlets, such as your country’s official fan club (which links back to the FIFA website anyway). Once confirmed, you will be issued with a number which allows you to apply for Fan ID – a process which is relatively straightforward. However, if you’ve left it this late you’re cutting things very fine, and you cannot just buy a ticket off the internet and then try to apply for Fan ID retrospectively.
Q – So I can’t just rock up to the stadium with a ticket given to me by a friend whose friend can’t make it?
A – Not unless you have a Fan ID, no. In theory you could borrow one from someone whose photo looks a bit like you (& you might get away with it if the match day stewards don’t look too closely) but you’re risking being denied entry.
Q – I already have a Fan ID and have been offered a ticket to another match; can I get in?
A – Yes, you can
Q – So tickets aren’t formally linked to Fan ID?
A – Correct, despite the authorities trying to convince you otherwise (turns out that FIFA & The Russian Authorities weren’t willing to full share information with each other).
Q – OK, so if I can’t actually get to see a game, what’s the next best alternative?
A – There’ll be no escaping the tournament; for starters each of the 11 host cities as dedicated Fan Zones where supports can congregate to watch games (there will be up to 3 matches played per day to begin with), and every bar & restaurant in the country will want to be a part of the action. Sports bars are your best bet although these are likely to be packed out, but it’s unlikely that you’ll find even a café that isn’t screening live action. Worst case you can stock your fridge up on beers, order a pizza and watch the football at home with friends as all the matches will be should on terrestrial television, as well as foreign channels. There’ll be no getting away from it, as after the games there’ll be the highlights, and post-match reaction from players, the manager, commentators and even from the fans themselves.
Q – How are the preparations going for the tournament itself?
A – So far so good, it seems. The Russian authorities have been pulling out all the stops to ensure that this goes according to plan. Russia is on show to the world and they will want this one to go off smoothly, virtually at any cost.
Q – I don’t like football – any advice?
A – Sure, take a vacation to a remote part of Russia (there are lots), where there is no internet access, or just out to the dacha and turn the TV off. Or abroad to a country which isn’t interested in football, but there aren’t many of those nowadays.