Russia’s World Cup Is Already Outrageously Expensive

Russia’s World Cup Is Already Outrageously Expensive

Maybe you’re still mourning Brazil’s catastrophic loss to Germany, but the rest of the world has moved on — to discussing the impact of the next series, which will take place in 11 Russian cities in 2018. And according to their reports, it’s going to be very, very expensive. Like $US11,500 per seat expensive.

The next World Cup is still four years off, but according to Der Spiegel, Russia’s own estimate puts the budget at $US40.5 billion, or more than twice the cost of Brazil’s World Cup. Meanwhile, University of Zurich professor Martin Müller, who tallied up the numbers and estimated how much each individual seat being built for the matches will end up costing: $US11,500. Compare that to Brazil, which spent $US6,500 per seat, or Germany in 2006, which spent $US3,200 per seat. The stadium in St. Petersburg, which has been underway since 2007, will have a per-seat cost of $US16,500. All told, it will cost $US1.2 billion for the whole shebang:

Russia 2018/ 2022 FIFA World Cup Bid Committee.

Why are these stadiums going to be so outrageously expensive? Unsurprisingly, as Der Spiegel points out, delays and corruption issues are going to play a role, just like in Sochi:

When FIFA awarded the World Cup to Russia in 2010, a leading advisor to then President Dmitri Medvedev tweeted, “Dawaite bes otkatow,” in Russian. Loosely translated, it means, “let’s try to avoid corruption this time.” There’s much to suggest this was little more than a pious hope.

But there’s actually a lot more to it. Russia is spending on infrastructure too — not just stadiums. Across the cities participating in the World Cup, the event is seen as a driver of investment in new infrastructure that Russia desperately needs. But even within Russia, opposition leaders are questioning the price tag. “All of these factors, the geopolitical madness and sanctions, are of course a path to Russia’s bankruptcy,” one leader told The Moscow Times this week.

As Müller points out in his report, Russia’s economy is in trouble amidst the ongoing crisis in Ukraine. The last thing they need is another $US40 billion wasted on pure spectacle. [Play the Game; Der Spiegel]