From Russia with love? They’ve been the perfect World Cup hosts

Mike Tuckerman Columnist

By Mike Tuckerman, Mike Tuckerman is a Roar Expert

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    Russia’s hosting of the 2018 FIFA World Cup has made a mockery of the pre-tournament headlines that said the tournament would be plagued by problems.

    Did Russia win the right to host the World Cup fairly? Sepp Blatter said in 2015 there was an agreement to take the World Cup to Eastern Europe well before any voting actually occurred.

    And the Russians arguably got off lightly in the ballot’s aftermath given the amount of scrutiny Qatar attracted for their bid to host the 2022 World Cup.

    Perhaps there would have been more of a spotlight shone on Russia’s bid had FIFA not decided to award the tournaments in back-to-back votes.

    But putting aside the dubious voting process, is it fair to suggest this World Cup has been a raging success?

    The football has been spectacular, the stadiums have been full, and the Russians themselves have been warm, welcoming and generous according to those who travelled.

    Where have all the hooligans been hiding? What happened to the hostile reception visiting fans were supposed to receive? And why has no one seen a shirtless Vladimir Putin riding horseback through SBS’s Red Square backdrop?

    Before the tournament kicked off, Australia’s deputy prime minister Michael McCormack urged Australians to think carefully about their travel plans.

    “If you don’t need to travel to Russia at the moment then think twice, think three times about doing it,” McCormack said.

    At the same time, the Australian government updated its travel advice for Russia to warn of the possibility of “anti-Western sentiment”.

    Fake news? The reality seems to have been very different.

    And even though not everything has gone perfectly – before the World Cup kicked off, several Australian fans reported having their visas being cancelled – it’s safe to say the Russia on show has not been quite the same as the country so regularly maligned in sensational media headlines.

    It wouldn’t be the first time the Australian government has grossly underestimated the popularity of football, either.

    But should we really have expected anything different?

    Russia is clearly a complex nation, but it’s also the nation that gave the world Tolstoy and Dostoyevsky, Tchaikovsky and Rachmaninoff, the Bolshoi Theatre and the Moscow Metro.

    Russians are a proud people, and the complexity of their political situation aside, they were always going to welcome World Cup visitors with open arms.

    Of course it helps that their national team was the surprise package of the tournament.

    Could the Russians have come any closer to reaching the semi-finals? Their nerve-shattering penalty shoot-out defeat to Croatia was utterly gripping drama.

    They were effectively denied by the width of the woodwork when Luka Modric’s spot-kick bounced hard off Igor Akinfeev’s outstretched hand, only to loop up and in off the post.

    Igor Akinfeev makes a save

    (Photo by Mike Kireev/NurPhoto via Getty Images)

    The scores would have been level had Akinfeev managed to keep that one out, but as it was Croatia went through 4-3 on penalties when Ivan Rakitic rifled his spot-kick home.

    And that was on the back of one of the most dramatic games of the tournament.

    Denis Cheryshev will never need to buy a drink in his homeland again after the Villareal midfielder finished the tournament with four goals to his name.

    And his spectacular piledriver against Croatia was the pick of the lot, as he smashed home a curling strike to give the host nation an unexpected lead.

    Russia then showed real fight to make it 2-2 in extra-time following Domagoj Vida’s scrappy goal, and it was a Brazilian-born player in Mario Fernandes who scored the all-important equaliser.

    It’s a shame Fernandes blasted his subsequent spot-kick wide, even if Croatia will make more than worthy semi-finalists.

    They’ll take on England, while France will face Belgium, in a couple of cracking semi-final showdowns.

    It’s been a fantastic tournament. And for that we owe Russia a debt of gratitude, even if some critics probably wish that wasn’t the case.

    Mike Tuckerman
    Mike Tuckerman

    Mike Tuckerman is a Sydney-born journalist and lifelong football fan. After lengthy stints watching the beautiful game in Germany and Japan, he settled in Brisbane, and has been a leading Roar football columnist since December 2008.

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    The Crowd Says (156)

    • July 9th 2018 @ 7:03am
      Kurt said | July 9th 2018 @ 7:03am | ! Report

      A couple of work colleagues have mates following England in Russia, and they’re reporting back that the whole tournament has been brilliant. Well organised, friendly hosts, good transport links and excellent stadiums. Much better apparently than Brazil or South Africa.

      • Roar Guru

        July 9th 2018 @ 10:18am
        AdelaideDocker said | July 9th 2018 @ 10:18am | ! Report

        I’ve heard the same. Seems like an amazing event.

    • July 9th 2018 @ 7:27am
      AGO74 said | July 9th 2018 @ 7:27am | ! Report

      I’m a general believer that most people on this planet are good people and that it’s usually only the idiots in power that ruin/jeopardise it for the rest of us.

      This particular World Cup seems to be a perfect example of that with all the wonderful stories of Russian hospitality – particularly for any host city bar Moscow and St Petersburg who would have never seen visitors on a scale such as this.

      That said if we got back to the idiots in power point of mine, whilst they have done a great job organising this tournament I can’t necessarily let that detract that this is a “government” (virtual dictatorship) that has broken all kinds of international law, intervened in USA elections, sanctioned military/militia that has killed even our own citizens and violated multiple human rights abuses amongst other things (I would suggest that the ultras – even with their terrible form – have maybe conveniently “disappeared” for the duration of this tournament.

      So yes it’s been a great tournament and I’m genuinely happy for the ordinary people in the likes of samara, Rostov etc that they have got a genuine party.

      However I cannot agree with in any form Mike that this tournament is some sort of proof of fake news from our government etc. their smart travellers website – whilst always on the cautioous side usually has very sound reasons for its advice.

      I’d suggest Mike that the reality is that Russia is putting on a show – if you want to see what Russia is really like perhaps go back to Nizhny Novgorod or Yekaterinburg in November or next February and see what the reality of Russian life and freedom/civil liberties equates to.

      • Columnist

        July 9th 2018 @ 8:53am
        Mike Tuckerman said | July 9th 2018 @ 8:53am | ! Report

        An illegitimate government, breaking international laws, rigging elections, violating human rights. Are you talking about Russia or the United States? Because the latter just won a joint bid to host the 2026 World Cup despite exhibiting many of the same flaws we criticise Russia for.

        • July 9th 2018 @ 9:12am
          Aligee said | July 9th 2018 @ 9:12am | ! Report

          Or the UK Government lying about Russian Nerve agents, colluding with anyone and anything to stay in the UE against the voters wishes.

          They are all as bad as each other.

          • July 9th 2018 @ 9:43am
            JimmyB said | July 9th 2018 @ 9:43am | ! Report

            Oh here we go.

        • July 9th 2018 @ 9:50am
          AGO74 said | July 9th 2018 @ 9:50am | ! Report

          As I said Mike its the idiots in power that ruin it for the rest of us.

          As I also said – go back to those cities in six or 12 months time to get a true reflection of what life is really like in Russia not this current lipstick on a pig that Russia is presenting for one month. Yes the USA and even our own government all have blood on their hands at times but if you want to keep your head in the sand on this with your references to “fake news” and “the country so regularly maligned in sensational media headlines” by suggesting that Russia is the same as other countries in the world at the moment then go ahead.

          • Columnist

            July 9th 2018 @ 10:11am
            Mike Tuckerman said | July 9th 2018 @ 10:11am | ! Report

            I have a degree in European History. I suspect I’m the last person to bury my head in the sand over this.

            • July 9th 2018 @ 10:31am
              AGO74 said | July 9th 2018 @ 10:31am | ! Report

              That’s great Mike – but you haven’t addressed my point.

              That is, if you went back to these same host cities in six/12 months, do you honestly think you would have the same extent of civil liberties, personal freedoms as either a western traveller or a Russian citizen that currently exists within Russia at the moment.

              The answer is clearly no. The Russia that has been put on for this month is not the real Russia (FYI – I have been there previously and I have experienced the good (ie. the people) and the bad (the government in many forms – immigration for starters). When the party leaves, its back to business for Putin and his cronies. Pity the minorities (racially or sexually based) or the numerous members of opposition media or opposition political parties who have mysteriously fallen from balconies or died from freak accidents etc.

              For all the faults of other western governments in the USA, UK or here, the reality is that life as a citizen if a world cup were held here (or USA 2026 when it happens) that for those citizens there way of life and civil liberties would remain the same in the lead up to, duration of and post a world cup. Yes we are not perfect and could be improved but what I’m saying is if we host a World Cup we don’t have to change our ways to host a World Cup as Russia has done. Our western societies are not perfect but there is no question we have greater degree of freedom here than in Russia. I thought that you as a journalist would appreciate that more than anyone Mike.

              • July 9th 2018 @ 11:05am
                AGO74 said | July 9th 2018 @ 11:05am | ! Report

                First the sanctimonious “I’ve got a degree in European history”. Now an even more sanctimonious “Sigh”.

                You’ll have to forgive me for not having total recall on an article written 4 years ago Mike. That said, your article from 4 years ago conflicts with some of your statements in this article.

                Still haven’t directly answered my question (at least in terms of what you think in 2018 and not 2014).


              • July 10th 2018 @ 12:19am
                Norman Whiteside said | July 10th 2018 @ 12:19am | ! Report

                Yep, that “degree in European History” says so much. Settles everything. Is Russia even part of Europe?! Like many Europeans, I’ve always seen it as being something altogether different. Like a cross betweeen Slovenia & Siberia. But far more dangerous.

              • July 9th 2018 @ 12:06pm
                Redondo said | July 9th 2018 @ 12:06pm | ! Report

                And yet AG, Putin is by all accounts extremely popular in Russia. So popular in fact that most agree he need not have campaigned or used underhand tactics to win the recent election in a landslide.

                Whatever we might think, based on a steady diet of negative western media, the Russian people clearly disagree.

                And while there’s no excusing either side for their appalling actions, in terms of foreign policy the Russians are no more evil than the US. And domestically, the US is a terribly mixed bag, with widespread poverty in one of the richest countries in the world.

              • Columnist

                July 9th 2018 @ 12:38pm
                Mike Tuckerman said | July 9th 2018 @ 12:38pm | ! Report

                AGO74, I could literally file a piece containing zero words on a Monday morning and ten of you blokes would still complain about its contents.

                My statement stems from the fact that no matter what angle I cover, someone complains. Write about the politics, like I did in 2014, and someone tells me to concentrate on the football. But write about the football, like I’ve done today, and the first thing blokes like you do is try to lecture me on politics.

                At the end of the day, my job is to start a discussion. Mission accomplished. But if you think it’s sanctimonious to highlight my credentials, or point out the fact I’ve already addressed many of these issues before, well… so what? Then I’m sanctimonious.

                There’s a Mitch Hedberg joke in all of this. “You can’t please all the people all the time… and last night, all those people were at my show”.

                No one really cares what I think about Russian politics. (And while I’m on the subject, no one here really cares what you think about it either). I wrote about Russia hosting a well-run World Cup because I think Russia has hosted a well-run World Cup. That’s all there is to it.

              • July 9th 2018 @ 1:07pm
                AGO74 said | July 9th 2018 @ 1:07pm | ! Report

                That’s fine Mike. We both agree that Russia has hosted a well-run World Cup.

                However where I have critqued some of your comments is where you have noted that Russia may be a victim of fake news or sensational headlines. You haven’t really responded to any of them, instead you’ve just deflected. It took about 3 comments for you to finally say what you really think of Russia – and then the article you provide generally contradicts the comments in this article that I am critiquing!! Anyway, have a good day. Looking forward to the semis.

              • July 9th 2018 @ 1:35pm
                BigAl said | July 9th 2018 @ 1:35pm | ! Report

                Stalin reportedly said to his daughter…
                “When I die people will pour dust on my grave – but the winds of history will blow them away ”

                I strongly feel Putin would have similar thoughts about himself.

                – Russia has always been different and difficult…

            • July 9th 2018 @ 10:58am
              Matt said | July 9th 2018 @ 10:58am | ! Report

              Yet you think one article 4 years ago has solved the issue definitively?

              You really don’t have a shred of integrity in your body do you Mike?

              Meanwhile overnight an innocent British citizen died as a result of a nerve agent brought into the UK by Russian agents as another innocent citizen is in intensive care because of it.

              But yay Russia put on a nice World Cup lets buy into Putin’s propaganda party!

              • Columnist

                July 9th 2018 @ 11:04am
                Mike Tuckerman said | July 9th 2018 @ 11:04am | ! Report

                I hate to break it to you, Matt – mainly because I know it will be followed by another lengthy screed – but I don’t care what you think.

              • July 9th 2018 @ 11:10am
                Matt said | July 9th 2018 @ 11:10am | ! Report

                You truly lack any morales don’t you Mike.

                Don’t address the criticism, change the topic and avoid the question like usual.

                Want to speak to the Sweeney family? Don’t know them? Well there son was killed by Russian military equipment on board MH17 flying to NZ to watch Newcastle in a pre season match.

                I have their contact details and i’m sure his father would love to discuss your article as a big football fan who no longer has his son because of the actions of Russia.

              • Columnist

                July 9th 2018 @ 11:17am
                Mike Tuckerman said | July 9th 2018 @ 11:17am | ! Report

                You want to talk about a lack of integrity… you’re literally some random anonymous critic who spends an inordinate amount of time bagging someone else’s work on the internet. And that’s fine if that’s your bag, but it doesn’t mean I’m obliged to respond to you.

              • July 9th 2018 @ 11:22am
                Matt said | July 9th 2018 @ 11:22am | ! Report

                Ignore the question once again.

                Mike do you have the integrity to speak to Barry Sweeney, whose son was killed trying to attend a football match by the actions of the Russian Government about your article praising the actions of the Russian Government because I am more than happy to forward this on to him and organise for you to speak with him regarding this.

              • Columnist

                July 9th 2018 @ 11:27am
                Mike Tuckerman said | July 9th 2018 @ 11:27am | ! Report

                If you think that would do anyone any good, then we should obviously be talking about your lack of morals, not mine.

              • July 9th 2018 @ 11:41am
                Matt said | July 9th 2018 @ 11:41am | ! Report

                Mike are you even aware the final falls two days before the 4th anniversary of the murder of 298 innocent people by Russian military equipment?

                Barry would be happy to speak about this with you, he spoke to the British media in the lead up to the World Cup about his feelings on the World Cup and a political boycott of the World Cup. I have his contact information and would like to see you explain your article to somebody who lost a family member at the hands of the government you are so quick to praise.

                One would think someone who majored in history wouldn’t be so quick to praise any government.

              • July 9th 2018 @ 3:58pm
                Mitcher said | July 9th 2018 @ 3:58pm | ! Report

                Matt, you’re a disgrace.

              • July 9th 2018 @ 4:06pm
                Matt said | July 9th 2018 @ 4:06pm | ! Report

                Why is that Mitcher?

              • July 9th 2018 @ 11:50am
                chris said | July 9th 2018 @ 11:50am | ! Report

                Matt your rants about Barry Sweeney and labelling them against Mike is just poor form.
                This is a sports site and people comment on sport.
                Not that hard to follow is it?

              • July 9th 2018 @ 11:56am
                PB said | July 9th 2018 @ 11:56am | ! Report

                OMG. Literally everything you read in the paper goes into your head as fact, doesn’t it?

                You probably think all the 43 “drug cheats” at Sochi weren’t illegally stripped and barred by Western political influence, and there are “gay concentration camps” in Chechnya. You believe in Russian collusion with Trump, and the idea that “open source intelligence” proves Russia did everything from steal the US election, to support chemical attacks in Syria, plus the MH-17 downing. Never mind that Russian evidence has never been accepted by the investigation team, nor were they allowed on the investigation team (Ukraine though – no problem). Never mind that Dutch journalists literally went to the scene YEARS after and returned with evidence that didn’t fit with the “Russia did it” analysis (and promptly had it confiscated by Dutch authorities).

                If you are this wound up about the circumstantial gossip “incriminating” a country that has nothing to do with you, the actions of our “allies” in Iraq and Palestine must give you actual fits, eh?

              • July 9th 2018 @ 11:58am
                Matt said | July 9th 2018 @ 11:58am | ! Report

                Chris, sport is intrinsically linked with politics. Do you think Russia would have a World cup without political influence? That same political influence that allowed the Russian FA to spend billions on this tournament and infrastructure also caused the death of 298 innocent people, the 4th anniversary of this event falling less than 48 hours after the World Cup final.

                There is no way you should look at this World Cup without looking at the actions of the people in power in Russia. Putin wants to use the tournament for propaganda (as do every leader of every country who win a World Cup or Olympic hosting rights) so equally he should be called out for crimes committed by his government at the same time we praise them.

              • July 9th 2018 @ 12:12pm
                Redondo said | July 9th 2018 @ 12:12pm | ! Report

                Matt – what’s your position on the ‘mistaken’ Iraq war and the US hosting the 2026 World Cup?

              • July 9th 2018 @ 12:19pm
                Matt said | July 9th 2018 @ 12:19pm | ! Report

                Redondo the actions of any other government has no bearing on Russia, the Russian World Cup or MH17 being shot down by Russian military equipment causing the deaths of 298 people.

                As I have stated here multiple times now, I think all governments who host these sporting events for political gain (that is every country that ever has or ever will) should have their actions criticised during these events when the spotlight is on them and people want to praise them. Context should be provided around the praise in every case.

                I hope in 2022 and 2026 we see more journalists questioning actions of the governments of host nations, I feel Brasil 2014 was the slow start of a change where the Brasilian government was rightly criticised much more than the South African government for their spending on the World Cup and the plight of the people from the favelas who the money could have helped much more.

              • July 9th 2018 @ 12:27pm
                Matt said | July 9th 2018 @ 12:27pm | ! Report

                PB with the conspiracies!

                Nobody is accusing Russia of everything reported in the media however if you can really sit their and deny Russian involvement in the downing of MH17 then you aren’t worth talking to.

                And once again when have I defended any other country in here? Stop trying to move the goalposts and stick to the topic at hand.

                This is an article about an event the Russian government are putting on not any other government, when Mike writes an article about the Qatar or Canada/Mexico/US World Cups we can discuss criticism of their governments and i’m sure I will get the exact same responses then as I am now from people like yourself who want to believe conspiracies against all scientific evidence.

            • July 9th 2018 @ 12:29pm
              Redondo said | July 9th 2018 @ 12:29pm | ! Report

              Mike – did you study psychology as well? You have an exceptional talent for spotting a trigger point.

              • July 9th 2018 @ 12:35pm
                Matt said | July 9th 2018 @ 12:35pm | ! Report

                Ever considered that somebody reading this article might have known Liam Sweeney on a personal level and might take offence to praising the government who caused his death and want to balance it with fair criticism considering the anniversary of his death occurs 48 hours after the World Cup final?

                I’d love to discuss this in person with you Redondo or even better put you in contact with Barry and put my/his point across before you make immature comments about trigger points.

              • July 9th 2018 @ 2:15pm
                JimmyB said | July 9th 2018 @ 2:15pm | ! Report

                This seems to have escalated a fair bit. Without wishing to patronise anyone might I suggest that this particular line of argument be abandoned as it’s not heading anywhere good.

              • July 9th 2018 @ 2:30pm
                Matt said | July 9th 2018 @ 2:30pm | ! Report

                I don’t see what needs to change Jimmy. All that has been asked is that praise of the Russian government is balanced with criticism of the Russian government and specifically with their actions related to the downing of MH17.

                If people want to draw false equivalencies about trigger points or Russia having unfair media coverage, that is their right to do so as is my right to ask them to discuss the issue with people who were affected by the actions of this Russian government.

                I have no need for name calling, I just wish to correct the terribly insensitive assumptions of Mike and others on this issue. One would surely think someone with a degree in history would be able to choose their words more carefully when commenting on a government in power and influencing their readers thoughts and discussions but clearly not.

              • July 9th 2018 @ 3:25pm
                chris said | July 9th 2018 @ 3:25pm | ! Report

                I made no comment on the Russian govt. Don’t drag everyone and anyone into your rants about the downing of a commercial airline. I don’t know you and you don’t know me.
                I have no idea what your personal circumstances are in relation to the downing of MH17.
                You’ve made your point (many times) and yet this still remains a sports blog site and people are here to discuss sport.
                I couldn’t care less about your views on mixing sports with politics and your desire for us to qualify sports related comments with caveats on the govt of the day.

              • July 9th 2018 @ 3:28pm
                Matt said | July 9th 2018 @ 3:28pm | ! Report

                Apart from the fact the comment had nothing to do with you and made no mention of you and was made in a conversation you had nothing to do with I totally understand your concern there Chris. /s

        • Roar Guru

          July 9th 2018 @ 10:37am
          JamesH said | July 9th 2018 @ 10:37am | ! Report

          While I agree with the sentiment, the way Trump came to power isn’t really comparable to Putin’s reign. He won an election in a broken, gerrymandered system that rewards slogans, showmanship and donations over substance, aided by a poor choice of candidate by the Dems. OTOH, Putin’s continued power has been marked by the actual suppression of any kind of opposition, be it journalistic, civil or political.

          At least we know Trump won’t be in office in 2026. I wouldn’t put it past Putin to find some way to extend his reign.

          Where the world went wrong with their predictions about Russia was in thinking Putin would allow the WC to fail. After the Sochi fiasco he would have put heads on the line (quite literally) to ensure this WC went smoothly. If there’s one thing you can say for Putin it’s this: when he wants something to happen, it generally happens.

        • July 9th 2018 @ 11:13am
          Matt said | July 9th 2018 @ 11:13am | ! Report

          Comparing Trump and Putin, do you have no shame Mike?

          Trump may be morally corrupt, racist and insane but he hasn’t sanctioned state killings of political dissidents. His actions have not resulted in the death of an innocent UK citizen by nerve agent, one of the most horrible ways to die. He hasn’t provided military equipment to shoot down a civilian plane.

          Have a word with yourself Mike.

        • July 9th 2018 @ 12:35pm
          IAP said | July 9th 2018 @ 12:35pm | ! Report

          The US rigging elections, violating human rights and breaking international laws? Come off it, you’ve been reading The Guardian too much.

      • July 9th 2018 @ 9:04am
        peeko said | July 9th 2018 @ 9:04am | ! Report

        well said. hosting the world biggest event is a great chance for a country to get some international respect.

        • July 9th 2018 @ 9:46am
          MQ said | July 9th 2018 @ 9:46am | ! Report

          good way to go broke as well

          • July 9th 2018 @ 12:02pm
            peeko said | July 9th 2018 @ 12:02pm | ! Report

            yep, forgot about that one

    • Roar Rookie

      July 9th 2018 @ 7:34am
      Waz said | July 9th 2018 @ 7:34am | ! Report

      Western politicians really didn’t help themselves with their “Apocalypse Now” type travel warnings – Russia has got a PR win over this and our Politicians come out looking a little bit silly despite perhaps some solid grounds for some of their fears, they should have been smarter and used sport for diplomacy not cheap political point scoring.

      It’s been a well delivered event, backed by great football, great attendances and spectacular viewing figures especially here in Australia.

      • July 9th 2018 @ 9:33am
        Lionheart said | July 9th 2018 @ 9:33am | ! Report

        I can’t access it Waz, but story in this morning’s Courier Mail headline says Milligan’s off to Europe. Good news all round I’d say.

        • Roar Rookie

          July 9th 2018 @ 2:21pm
          Waz said | July 9th 2018 @ 2:21pm | ! Report

          That’s good news. Not that I thought it was on the radar but you never know.

      • July 9th 2018 @ 9:56am
        JimmyB said | July 9th 2018 @ 9:56am | ! Report

        Imagine if these Western governments hadn’t been cautious with their travel advice and it had turned out to be a WC full of violence. It was perfectly sensible that these governments were prepared for things to go south given recent events but it’s been very pleasing that Russia has put its best foot forward and there’s been no trouble, in fact quite the opposite, it’s been a celebration. Putin is a very smart guy and he’s definitely won the PR war but it’s also shown the power and reach that he wields in Russia because Russian football hooligans are not an imagined phenomenon, they’re perfectly real. Where they are during this WC is anyone’s guess but occasionally being an authoritarian state has its perks.

        • Roar Guru

          July 9th 2018 @ 10:39am
          JamesH said | July 9th 2018 @ 10:39am | ! Report

          I think the warnings should have been tempered. Along the lines of ‘it’s probably safe, but be careful of XYZ’.

          • July 9th 2018 @ 11:02am
            Matt said | July 9th 2018 @ 11:02am | ! Report

            “It’s totally safe as long as you identify as 100% heterosexual, don’t show any support for the persecuted LGBTQ community, or the Chechen community, or the Ukrainian community and as long as you don’t mention any of the international crimes committed by the Russian government in the last 50 years or access any information online critical of the Russian government.”

            Rolls off the tongue really……

            • July 9th 2018 @ 1:39pm
              PB said | July 9th 2018 @ 1:39pm | ! Report

              Sorry you lost someone on MH-17. Understand you’re looking for someone to blame. Really sorry you’ve been distracted from how that flight got anywhere near a live warzone. Blaming the Russian govt is convenient, and there’s lots of support for it. But even looking at the Russian point of view a little very quickly makes it clear they’ve been accused without fair investigation or trial.

              Most people who pay attention have learned to ignore Western propaganda since the “Iraq has weapons of mass destruction” propaganda; but they’re still at it, and have new methods. I’m sorry you’re emotionally vulnerable to such manipulation, but it doesn’t do you any good ranting at people angrily because they’re not being sucked in the way you are.

              • July 9th 2018 @ 2:16pm
                Matt said | July 9th 2018 @ 2:16pm | ! Report

                PB when are you going to tell us all about how jet fuel doesnt melt steel.

                Conspiracy theorists truly have a different mindset to rational humans.

                Never let silly things like evidence and facts get in the way of your conspiracies though PB….

        • July 9th 2018 @ 10:51am
          Fadida said | July 9th 2018 @ 10:51am | ! Report

          Good points Jimmy

        • Roar Rookie

          July 9th 2018 @ 12:45pm
          Waz said | July 9th 2018 @ 12:45pm | ! Report

          Personally I don’t think the western governments travel advice was “travel advice” but rather politically motivated interference coming up short of a travel boycott.

          Travel advice is meant to be politically independent and factual, not a party political broadcast. Looking at the public statements I don’t think the West did themselves any favours.

          I get the criticism of Russia, I also believe we got a safe World Cup because the Russian authorities probably took steps we would find unacceptable in dealing with any potential problems.

          But was the West’s “travel advice” fair and reasonable? I don’t think it was, and the benefit of hindsight says it wasn’t. That looks bad for our democracy.

          Sport and Politics are linked BUT they are not the same thing and one must co-exist in spite of the other. Western leaders not travelling to Russia was enough, they didn’t need to lie to the public for their own political ends.

          • July 9th 2018 @ 1:04pm
            Matt said | July 9th 2018 @ 1:04pm | ! Report

            Russia got the exact same warning level as Jamaica, Nepal, France and Brasil within 7 days of those countries getting warnings. There is no conspiracy just the government fulfilling its legal obligations to warn the lowest common denominator of risks associated with travel.

            Unless of course we are politically motivated to stop people travelling to Jamaica and Brasil /s

          • July 9th 2018 @ 2:43pm
            JimmyB said | July 9th 2018 @ 2:43pm | ! Report

            ‘Was the West’s ‘travel advice’ fair and reasonable?
            Yes I believe that it was, certainly regarding the UK governments anyway. Obviously when giving advice prior to an event one is not afforded the benefit of hindsight, instead they must rely on recent events. Relations between Russia and the UK have not been so fraught since the Cold War and the recent European Championships were blighted by pitched battles between hooligans, including those from the UK and Russia.
            IMO the advice given prior to this WC was proportionate and correct. It might not be entirely coincidental either that this advice has now appeared heavy handed and shrill…as we know Putin enjoys making Western governments appear silly and paranoid.

    • July 9th 2018 @ 7:55am
      chris said | July 9th 2018 @ 7:55am | ! Report

      “If you don’t need to travel to Russia at the moment then think twice, think three times about doing it,” McCormack said.
      Can we take any travel warnings from our illustrious govt seriously anymore?
      From the officials at border controls to the waiters serving coffee at breakfast, the Russians were kind, helpful and wonderful hosts.
      Thank you for making our trip an unforgettable experience.

      • July 9th 2018 @ 9:05am
        Geoff Dustby said | July 9th 2018 @ 9:05am | ! Report

        you realise this is all a show to look good to the rest of the world?

        • July 9th 2018 @ 9:44am
          Fadida said | July 9th 2018 @ 9:44am | ! Report

          My suspicions exactly Geoff.

          I’ve no doubt people will be praising Qatari culture during and after the next finals.

          • July 9th 2018 @ 9:57am
            chris said | July 9th 2018 @ 9:57am | ! Report

            I spoke to enough Russians to get an understanding of how they live their lives. They are not too different from other Euro cultures and enjoy similar standards of living.
            I have no doubt the Russian govt “put on a show” as you say. But I have little idea of what govts get up to (including ours) so lets keep it in the perspective I was putting my statement across.

        • Roar Guru

          July 9th 2018 @ 11:41am
          Chris Kettlewell said | July 9th 2018 @ 11:41am | ! Report

          But the point isn’t that this is showing Russia how it really is. The point is that the warnings were probably a bit over the top because they didn’t take into account the fact that, no matter how bad some things may be over there, they were going to do everything in their power to make sure this all went down smoothly.

          Places where the issues involve the government exerting too much control rather than not enough, may be tough for citizens the rest of the time, but likely will mean a tournament like this will run smoothly. You would probably have been in more danger in Brazil or South Africa where the biggest worries are high crime rates and the like.

          That’s not to suggest that there aren’t major issues in Russia, but just looking at safety regarding this tournament.

          • July 9th 2018 @ 1:09pm
            Matt said | July 9th 2018 @ 1:09pm | ! Report

            And funnily enough Chris DFAT issued the exact same level warning for France 3 days before the Russian travel advice.

            This is literally what DFAT do, provide advice for the lowest common denominator, that is why they have already released 170 travel warnings this year alone for various countries around the world including allies like the UK, France and US.

            • July 9th 2018 @ 2:27pm
              chris said | July 9th 2018 @ 2:27pm | ! Report

              Exactly my point.
              Those warnings are not worth the the pixels on a web page.

    • July 9th 2018 @ 8:09am
      Rolland said | July 9th 2018 @ 8:09am | ! Report

      The games have been excellent no doubt about that but they would have been if hosted in any western country nothing to do with it being staged in Russia .the venues are out of this world extravagant at best but hate to think of the slave labor used to build the venues . Russia are far from perfect world citizens .a country that is politically is a threat to world peace and engages in unsavoury behaviour by interfering in world economies world politics recent example the USA elections causes instability around the world should never be rewarded with hosting the biggest sporting event in the world .I still reckon they Russia should have never hosted the World Cup ,and the credentials of the next host are not much better either.FIFA is a blight on our game and still is .

    • July 9th 2018 @ 8:15am
      Caltex & SBS support Australian Football said | July 9th 2018 @ 8:15am | ! Report

      I’ts just been brilliant!

      And all the stadia with their magnificent playing surfaces in this tournament have been amazing.

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