Looking Back: Russia’s Footsies with Footies

Paul Goncharoff

It seems that between 2013 and 2018 the salubrious overall gross benefits of the World Cup to Russia was 952 billion roubles, or the equivalent of about 1% of the country’s annual GDP. The lion’s share of which was felt during the 2017 to 2018 period according to a recent report by the organizing committee ‘Russia 2018’.

Some of the direct benefits of the World Cup have been:

  1. Direct labour incomes benefitted by 469 billion roubles;
  2. About 315 direct new jobs created;
  3. Revenue growth from taxes amounted to 164 billion roubles;
  4. Revenues of small and medium businesses increased by 797 billion roubles;
  5. The gross regional product (GRP) for those regions that organized and hosted the events increased on average by 2%-6% GRP per annum.

Follow-on effects estimated and projected through 2023 show a positive impact of approximately 150-210 billion roubles per year. The expected gains look to be split with one third to further develop tourism, and the balance in long-term benefits seen in heightened investment into Russia’s many regions.

In this image taken from video provided by FC Angusht Nazran a bear performs before a Russian Second League soccer match between Angusht Nazran and Mashuk-KMV in Pyatigorsk, Russia on Sunday, April 15, 2018. (FC Angusht Nazran youtube channel via AP)

What was not quantified, and will keep growing, is the increased realization that the sanctioning and isolation of Russia has little to no basis in rational objective thinking, political reality or economics. Throughout the various social media, it is easily apparent that those who came to Russia as well as those who followed the sporting events taking place in the several regions all came away with impressions far different and more positive than those regularly expounded by both political or media pundits.

Now that the fall has arrived in Russia, I have noticed a quiet resurgence of interest from a number of people who came to the football event, or followed on videos who now want to take the time and energy to simply return and examine what they can do themselves in Russia. This is expressing itself across a very wide range of interests, from business development and investing to arts and culture, even to homesteading or whatnot in far-flung regions.

While I do not yet have the data, doubtless it will become available soon, one of my contacts in the immigration service of Russia confided that record numbers of continual requests have flooded them since the end of July for information on what is required to achieve residency in Russia. This covers both temporary and permanent residency. The bulk of these inquiries come from Europe, then Asia, Latin America, even from North America.

The common denominator seems to be if they will be able to do business in or out of Russia once they are resident, and can they use Russian tax status to avoid double taxation from their country of origin.

The common-sense spoiler is the understandable requirement that residents in Russia have at least a modicum command of basic Russian – this is tested, and it really is a practical necessity. After all, how can one live, work, develop ideas or contacts and not speak the language of your host country? It is also basic politeness and respect. No doubt, this is good news for language schools at the very least.

The World Cup has come and gone, yesterday’s news, but like throwing a pebble in a pond, the ripple effects are still getting wider and wider in clarifying for people the simple realities about Russia and its role in the world we live in.