Despite many negative expectations of the 2018 FIFA World Cup, Russia delivered one of the best World Cups in living memory. This book brings together leading scholars working in Russian studies, sociology and political science to analyse the 2018 World Cup and assess its significance for sport, Russia and the world.

 The book explores the connections between sport, soft power, populism, protest, and international politics, and investigates topics including security, surveillance, social media and patriotic mobilization, shining new light on key contemporary themes in the social sciences. It reflects upon the importance of sporting mega-events for public diplomacy, and considers what the 2018 World Cup can tell us about the current condition of Russian society and the Russian state.

This is fascinating reading for anybody with an interest in soccer, sport and society, Russia, international politics, events, or post-Soviet societies.

chapter |13 pages


A sporting riddle wrapped in mystery
ByRichard Arnold

chapter Chapter 1|19 pages

The state of play in Russian football

ByManuel Veth

chapter Chapter 2|23 pages

Security and the spectacle

The 2018 FIFA World Cup in Russia’s “safest city”
ByVolkan Ipek, Andrey Makarychev

chapter Chapter 3|23 pages

Populist tactics

Ramzan Kadyrov’s use of football as a political tool during the 2018 FIFA World Cup
ByMichael Cole

chapter Chapter 4|21 pages

Increased output legitimacy by hosting mega sport events?

The 2018 FIFA World Cup in Russian Twitter discourse
ByHenk Erik Meier, Julia Glathe, Michael Mutz, Martin Hölzen

chapter Chapter 5|18 pages

Sport and domestic “soft power” in Russia

Take the skinheads bowling
ByRichard Arnold

chapter Chapter 6|20 pages

The case of Pussy Riot’s protest at the World Cup 2018 in Russia

‘The policeman enters the game’
ByOlga Iakimova

chapter Chapter 7|16 pages

Football, film, and the Russian state

An unorthodox alliance
ByPeter Rollberg

chapter Chapter 8|15 pages

Russian soft power as a result of FIFA 2018

ByTatiana Zonova

chapter Chapter 9|18 pages

Vladimir Putin, Russian foreign policy, and the 2018 FIFA World Cup

Making Russia great again
ByAndrew Foxall