Why Russia is cutting hotels ahead of World Cup

Football fans attending the 2018 World Cup could be looking at campgrounds for housing as Russia cuts back on spending, starting with the event's hotels. 

When Russia won the right to host the finals in 2010, the country promised to provide 100,000 guestrooms for visiting fans. FIFA, football's governing body, only requires 60,000 rooms to be provided, but Russia was on a mission to wow the world. Now, an economic downturn, falling oil prices and Western sanctions due to the crisis in Ukraine is prompting Russia to redraw its plans.

In April, the country canceled plans for 25 hotels, saving roughly $475 million, and last month it reduced its limit on total spending for the tournament to $11 billion, saving $530 million on accommodation. Boats have been discussed as being used for alternative bed spaces. The biggest drawback for the fans is that the World Cup takes place across 11 cities, meaning fans will have to travel sometimes thousands of miles on match days. 

“One legacy of the Soviet Union is the Pioneer camps, used by children in summer time” Maxim Podovinnikov, the region’s deputy trade and industry minister, told Euronews in reference to the youth movement in which red-scarved boys and girls were brought up to revere Lenin and become good Communists. “In the woods, near the rivers, lakes and water areas, beautiful places. Those places would be available,” he said.

During a tour of a construction site where a five-star hotel is to stand, he told reporters: “In Nizhny at least, we will have plenty of rooms for everyone who wants to come… We don’t expect any problems. In fact, you could say we are ready now.”