Is Russia the real winner of World Cup 2018?

The 2018 World Cup has been seen as a public relations triumph for Vladimir Putin’s Russia, but beyond the football concerns remain about the country’s commitment to democracy, human rights and the international order.

For the last month, I have barely recognised Moscow.

Like the tornado in the Wizard of Oz, the World Cup blew into town and swept me away from a sepia world, over the rainbow, to a Technicolor dreamland. In this land of Oz, otherwise known as “World Cup Russia”, football fans from across the globe thronged the streets of central Moscow.

They sang, danced and partied through the night in a sea of Mexican sombreros, Peruvian ponchos, Icelandic Viking helmets and, of course, Russian tricolours. Even the normally stern-faced Russian police officers were cracking smiles. (Read more…)