Observer writers and Russia experts run behind the spin to analyse the host nations social and political landscape
Part 1. Racism
‘Young fans assure the predominance of far-right chants. Anyone who challenges it faces a threat of violence'
It is the most politically charged World Cup in recent memory: Russia, resurgent under Vladimir Putin, is set to host the 32 -team tournament next month amid scandals ranging from athletics doping to spy poisonings. Relations between Moscow and London are at their coolest since the cold war and the recent events in Salisbury even led to brief speculation( is supported by Boris Johnson) that England could skip the tournament, remembering the Olympics boycotts of the 1980 s.
While individual matches such as the United States and Iran's face-off in 1998 were political lightning rods in their time, the host country has not faced such heated criticism perhaps since the 1978 World Cup in Argentina, held just two years after a right-wing military takeover backed by the United States.
Last week Human Rights Watch released a 44 -page guide detailing repression and discrimination in Russia, targeted at the thousands of journalists expected to arrive in the country for the tournament.
” Fifa still has time to show that it is ready to use its leverage with the Russian government to fulfil its own human rights policies ,” Hugh Williamson of Human Rights Watch, said in a statement.
Russia's aspirations have changed since it was awarded the World Cup back in 2010. Then, it still seemed set on wooing the international community by holding prestige tournaments. Dmitry Medvedev was president and the reset in relations initiated by President Obama was still on track, with the objective of repairing relations after the war in Georgia. But even then, long before Salisbury, the war in Ukraine, laws against “gay propaganda” and hooligan violence in Marseilles, racist incidents in Russian football were a clear concern.