World Cup volunteers add gloss to Russia 2018


Soccer Football - World Cup - Group D - Argentina vs Iceland - Spartak Stadium, ...
Soccer Football - World Cup - Group D - Argentina vs Iceland - Spartak Stadium, Moscow, Russia - June 16, 2018 A volunteer before the match outside the stadium REUTERS/Christian Hartmann

In Summary

  • There was utter silence in the streets of Moscow on Saturday night when hosts Russia exited the 2018 FIFA World Cup, despite putting a spirited fight against 1998 semi-finalists Croatia in Sochi
  • This, was an absolutely opposite affair to the night Russia knocked out 2010 champions Spain in the round of 16 at the Luzhiniki Stadium, throwing the country to overnight celebrations

Jacob Icia in Moscow, Russia

There was utter silence in the streets of Moscow on Saturday night when hosts Russia exited the 2018 FIFA World Cup, despite putting a spirited fight against 1998 semi-finalists Croatia in Sochi.

This, was an absolutely opposite affair to the night Russia knocked out 2010 champions Spain in the round of 16 at the Luzhiniki Stadium, throwing the country to overnight celebrations.

The hosts’ success in the tournament agonizingly came to an end, but the legacy of a meticulously organized competition stands, at least going by the progress so far.

Out of the 32 teams that started off the Russia action, only four remain with semis kicking-off on Tuesday, thus the big part of the business has been transacted.

One key point visitors will never forget is the role played by volunteers in the tournament, whose organization in their work is simply splendid.

Across the 11 hosting cities, the Local Organizing Committee has stationed 17,404 vibrant youths, most from Universities, to ensure nobody struggles to get information regarding the tournament.

Their maroon T-shirts and blue trousers make it easy to identify from a distance, putting on a large spongy purple glove on their right hand which they use to ‘hi-five’ the seemingly new faces in Russia, wearing deliberate inviting smiles.

The LOC, led by Allexy Sorokin, knew how language would be a major barrier thus deliberately picked most of the volunteers on basis of language prowess, at least those could speak two or more languages apart from Russian.

Spirit of Hospitality

Soccer Football - World Cup - Group C - Denmark vs France - Luzhniki Stadium, Moscow, Russia - June 26, 2018 Volunteers welcome fans REUTERS/Kai Pfaffenbach

“We were required to apply to volunteer, as a show of commitment because there was also a well-coordinated training to follow. I can speak Russian and English, so it was easy for me pass the criteria.

“So far it has been amazing to interact with people from different countries, helping them in small things that would have otherwise troubled them,” told one Calina Avdotya, serving outside the Nizhny Novgorod Stadium during the France versus Uruguay quarter final clash.

This, is one area that the Sorokin says has been ‘amazing in execution’, in the spirit of hospitality.

“We are nearing the homestretch of the tournament, and so far it has been success, not just on the complex areas but the simple ones that to us mean a lot.

“We are happy to see the dedication our young men and women volunteering to avoid any confusion in our venues. Close three million people, from fans to delegates and invited guests have been to various stadiums so far which an overwhelming number is, which otherwise would have been difficult to manage,” said the LOC Chairman.

Not only in the playing venues, but in the fan fests near stadiums are the volunteers.

Some are tasked with making announcements, including the direction to the city shuttles and metro train stations for the fans leaving stadiums or fan fests.

The volunteers being just a highlight of a wide range of pillars of tournament’s organization success story, FIFA Chief Tournament and Tournament Officer Collin Smith has been quoted by AFP saying so far so good in every facet.

“We are getting good feedback from teams. All indicators are that we have had a successful tournament so far. Everything is going according to plan. From the planning stage to this moment, there has been enthusiasm from Russia in hosting this tournament. I am not surprised that Russia has succeeded. It is good to see this.”

Word has been going round that top man in Kremlin Vladimir Putni ordered warm welcome to visitors during the tournament that brings the biggest number of foreigners at a go in Russia’s history.

No wonder, KSh1.3 trillion has been channeled to the planning and hosting of the tournament, including renovation of playing venues and transport infrastructure.

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Story By Jacob Icia
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