Just a week after the World Cup final and I think finally I can say my World Cup jet lag (yes - it’s a thing) has finally disappeared. No more 1.00am or 4.00am alarms for a while now. And welcome back to my life ... sleep! In saying that, Premier League, can you hurry up and start please?! I have football withdrawal symptoms. 

Looking back at Russia 2018 – was it a success from an event management perspective? I am not going to address the football politics perspective of how their bid was won, or the broader political issues, but purely the event as an event. 

Everything I read and heard via the media reflected only one thing; positivity. In fact, I have not heard any negative media reports around poor organisation or bad event management. 

As we approached the half way mark, several pundits and fans were already describing Russia 2018 as the ‘best World Cup ever' because of the on-field performances. There were so many unpredictable twists and turns which added to the excitement, the drama and the overall enjoyment by many.

Friends in England who I had never heard talk about football were all of a sudden interested, and not just a little bit interested – they were addicted. 

Prior to kick off, many English fans were put off travel. They thought there’d be hooliganism and the organisation would be a mess. But these thoughts proved to be unfounded as The Independent reported.  

More than 5 million fans attended the matches, including 2.9 million foreign visitors, which is an impressive figure given all the political disagreement that preceded the tournament.

However, I think it’s fair to say the World Cup did what President Vladimir Putin hoped it would; it changed many people’s perceptions of Russia. It may prove to be the most noteworthy soft power victory for the country in years.

I had a few friends who went straight from working at the Commonwealth Games to working in Russia – they’re known as ‘games gypsies’. Their feedback was only encouraging. 

When I asked a friend, who spent six weeks working in corporate hospitality for the World Cup, the response was glowing:

“I would say it was definitely a success – from what I heard from international fans – it generally exceeded their expectations in terms of spectator services, transport, stadium infrastructure and hospitality. And local fans liked it too. Moscow felt so quiet and sad on Monday when it was all over.”

And similarly, from another friend working in transport; her sentiment was equally positive:

“It was absolutely amazing. We only had very few isolated incidents. Everyone came together as a team and suppliers even helped us when we were short staffed. I personally loved Russia and Russian people, and I am not the only one. It is hard to admit that publicly due to all the political turmoil, but on a day to day basis, my experience in Russia was fantastic.”

In terms of the next men's World Cup in Qatar, the tournament will be held in November and December 2022 - four and a half years away - and could expand to 48 teams. The change in timing is necessary to move the tournament away from the soaring summer temperatures. 

The switch will certainly have a huge impact on football leagues as there is currently no winter break. 

Aside from the date, awarding the tournament to Qatar has thrown up several other issues which have been well-documented elsewhere and by people much more knowledgeable than me, as was Russia's win. 

Many thought Russia would be a disaster, but it wasn’t anything of the sort. Perhaps Qatar too can turn the endless negative speculation into a successful, memorable World Cup.   

I’ve already made my mind up - I am going to be in the right time zone for the games. As much as World Cup jet lag was a new experience, it reiterated that I would prefer to enjoy the next World Cup either from Qatar (despite the long list of issues) or from England. And you never know – England might really bring it home in 2022.

Categories: Opinion | World Cup

2018 world cup, #russia2018, #qatar2022

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