£8bn tournament is most expensive of all time

Too late: Yekaterinburg’s ground has a temporary stand, as it was not finished in time.

Is hosting the World Cup worth it? The tournament is fun, but very expensive to prepare. Russia has high levels of poverty, but that has not stopped it from splashing out on stadiums.

What’s happening

Four weeks, 64 games, 12 stadiums, and a price tag of £8 billion. Russia’s epic World Cup is the most expensive in history. Most of the money has gone to building stadiums, but some has been spent on improving infrastructure, such as roads and airports. Meanwhile, the country is becoming poorer.

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When Russia was awarded the World Cup back in 2010, its economy was strong. Since then, it has been hit by sanctions and the falling price of oil (which it sells). Now, almost 20 million Russians live in poverty.

Russia’s government is confident that the World Cup will help. It says that preparations have created 220,000 jobs, almost all the tickets have been sold, and Russians will benefit from the new infrastructure for decades to come.

It is difficult to measure the economic effects of World Cups. However, most nations have found it hard to put their stadiums to good use after the event, as they tend to be too big for normal matches. Brasilia’s state-of-the-art stadium is now used as a car park.

Is hosting the World Cup really worth it?

Some say…

Of course. These tournaments create jobs and draw tourists. According to studies, they also boost the happiness of locals, who get to watch games and bask in the prestige of hosting. With proper planning, the stadiums can be used to encourage sports in the country. As soon as the games start this week, people will agree that it was a good idea.

Others think…

No way. Some locals will enjoy the games, but most Russians will not go. Afterwards, the stadiums will probably go to ruin — Russia is not even a football-loving country. The government’s promised economic boost is unlikely to happen. Think of the difference £8 billion could have made if spent on the country’s social problems. What a waste!

You Decide

  1. Should only rich countries be allowed to host the World Cup?

Activities

  1. Imagine a 40,000-seat stadium is lying empty near your home. In groups, come up with a plan for how it could be used.

Some People Say...

“Sports is all about money.”

Lynn Samuels

What do you think?

Word Watch

Infrastructure
The structures and systems, like transport or electricity, that a society needs to function.
Sanctions
Punishments for countries that have broken international rules. Sanctions were placed on Russia after it invaded Ukraine in 2014.
Poverty
Everyone who earns less than the government’s official “poverty line” is considered to be living in poverty.
Brasilia
The capital of Brazil, which hosted the World Cup in 2014.
Prestige
Respect, admiration.

Subjects

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