Global tensions: Which soccer nations will make it through to the finals of the FIFA World Cup in Russia next year?
When Russia won the bid to host the 2018 FIFA World Cup nearly seven years ago, the world drew a sharp intake of breath as the scale of the improvements needed for internal transport, infrastructure and host city hotel-room capacity became apparent — not to mention the daunting task of constructing 12 stadiums across 11 cities, separated by an average distance of 640 kilometres. Fast forward to less than nine months before the first match kicks off on 14 June 2018 and the question must be asked: Is Russia and its supporting infrastructure and real estate ready for the world stage once again? At the time of winning the bid, the majority of Russia’s airports across the vast country were chronically below international standards and at various stages of redevelopment. And Russia’s hotel markets severely lacked international quality establishments, with more than 40,000 rooms below global standards and just one recognisable economy brand in Moscow. But Russia’s