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World Cup Construction: Building a Lasting Legacy with “The Beautiful Game”

From June 14 to July 15, Russia plays host to the 21st FIFA World Cup, a quadrennial event featuring the national football teams from 32 global nations who compete for the coveted trophy and glory of winning. The tournament promises a feast of football with 64 matches, played in 12 venues, located in 11 cities and attended by a predicted 570,000 foreign fans and 700,000 Russians over 31 days.

The 2018 World Cup is the first ever to be held in Eastern Europe. It also marks the return of football’s biggest competition to Europe since Germany in 2006, so the pressure is on for Russia to deliver, both on and off the pitch. The matches will draw an expected audience of 3 billion viewers globally offering an impressive platform to promote Russia to the world.

As hosts, the Russian national team automatically qualified for the competition. The fate of the other 31 teams was determined by a series of tournaments, open to all 210 FIFA member associations. Surprising absences this year include Italy, the Netherlands and the United States who failed to qualify, making way for smaller nations such as Iceland and Panama who will be making their World Cup debuts.

Russia was awarded hosting rights for the 2018 World Cup in December 2010. The national team may have avoided the effort required to qualify for the tournament, but the organising committee didn’t have such an easy journey. They embarked on an ambitious schedule to get the country match fit on time to welcome their global visitors.

Before the official games began, preparing Russia for the event has been a massive act of teamwork between the government, construction companies and FIFA. Below, let’s take a look at the economic impact of this large-scale collaboration as well as lessons other nations can take from World Cup construction in Russia.

The Economic Impact of World Cup Construction

The Russian Federation is a massive region, and the decision was made to locate all the stadium venues in Eastern Russia to aid travel and logistics. Despite this, the distances are still vast; stretching from the Russian enclave of Kaliningrad 3,042 km/ 1,890 miles east to Yekaterinburg in the Ural Mountains, and 2,336 km/ 1,451 miles south from St Petersburg to Sochi, the home of the 2014 Winter Olympics.  

The expansive plans involved massive investment in heavy civil projects to construct and renovate the football arenas and provide the necessary infrastructure to transport, accommodate and entertain both players and supporters over the course of the tournament.  This will be the costliest World Cup to date, estimated at $13.2 billion, and opinions are divided on the value that Russia will see once the players and supporters have left1.  

Nonetheless, the economic impact of the games is anticipated to be immense. It’s predicted that the games will have a $31 billion impact on the country’s economy. A large part of this is due to the enormous impact of World Cup construction.

Regardless of the long-term economic effects of the World Cup 2018, the sheer size of the projects undertaken ensures that it will be a catalyst for broader social changes, which has changed the landscape in the 11 host cities2. Here are just a few examples of how World Cup construction has helped shape the country:

  • 10 new stadiums
  • 11 airport developments
  • 12 new roads and junctions
  • 13 reconstructed or renovated hospitals
  • 29 utility facilities
  • 12 power stations
  • 31 adaptations to railway stations
  • 27 hotels

In addition to these developments, 800 hectares of city parks, public green zones and specially protected areas have been renovated, which will leave a lasting legacy in the region.

Just two of the twelve football stadiums existed when Russia was awarded the World Cup in 2010. Both of these have undergone massive reconstruction with innovative designs to bring them up to FIFA requirements in terms of seating and access. The ten new stadia have also embraced exciting architectural styles and their construction plans have also included welcome wider development in their host cities3.  

How Construction Teams Can Win the Top Prize

Cost overruns and delays are not uncommon with large construction projects and Russia hasn’t escaped in this regard. The World Cup 2018 construction teams had to deal with a range of challenges, from the familiar–impact of planning decisions, funding concerns and adverse weather, to the extreme–fire in the Samara Stadium and discovering World War II shells on the construction site of the Rostov Arena. Some contractors were served fines for delays, just months before the June 14 kick-off date4, but the organising committee secured FIFA approval of all twelve stadiums and the stadiums were signed over on time.

In all projects, and especially in ones that are so high stake like World Cup construction, coordination needs to be seamless to avoid cost and schedule overruns. Field collaboration software is one tool that can help bridge large teams and provide complete oversight to owners that are managing multiple projects. By using software to centralize communications and plans, teams can move faster towards meeting big goals, way before the opening ceremony.

Let the Games Begin

Significant effort and teamwork have been invested in getting Russia into shape to host the World Cup 2018. On June 14 the hosts will lead Saudi Arabia into the renovated Luzhniki Stadium in Moscow for the first match of the tournament. For the next 31 days, the focus will shift to the performance of the national football teams and their supporters, as each nation brings a flavour of their language, colour, culture and football skills. They have worked hard to qualify and come to Russia with one unified goal–to be crowned the best football team in the world!


Amanda Fennell

Amanda Fennell joined PlanGrid in October 2017. As Head of Marketing in EMEA, based in the UK. She has 20 year's marketing experience in IT, including working with some leading cloud organizations. She was the first marketing recruit in EMEA and supported the launch of the company in the region. Amanda holds an MA in Communications and Cultural Studies from DCU, Ireland.

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