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Security Overview of FIFA World Cup 2018 in Russia

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Danica Modesta

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Russia has been making it to the headlines of late. This is due to the fact that the iconic country would be hosting the FIFA World Cup this year. This is the first time that the great tournament would be held in Eastern Europe, in which 32 member teams would be jousting for the trophy. Also, it is expected that there would be millions of spectators who would be travelling to Russia to watch the grand FIFA World Cup 2018, which would be held between June 14 and July 15.

When global events such as the Olympics, the Grand Slams or the FIFA are on the calendar, however, security issue becomes ubiquitous. This is because the top profile bureaucrats, politicians, chiefs of states and world renowned players conglomerate in such iconic events, apart from the teeming local and international civilian spectators. The presence of the global leaders and millions of civilians causes security concerns among the local authorities. While the elites and commoners have a great time watching the grand events, the security personnel are at the helm of a great degree of planning and responsibilities, in order to ensure that mishaps do not happen. Else, the slightest security lapse could lead to unexpected catastrophic mayhem.

When it comes to the domestic and global state of affairs, it has been lately observed that Russia has become an eye-catcher for all due to the persistent turbulence, which have hit the nation.

Political and Diplomatic Issues

Vladimir Putin’s reelection as the president of Russia by nearly 77 percent of the population in March 2018 has evoked restive surges among the different political groups nationwide. There are a number of hostile factions and groups, which are keen about undermining his reputation in the global arena. When the political atmosphere reeks of possible strife and unrest, there are chances that certain rival groups might conspire to do something, which would inevitably tarnish Putin’s reputation. These factions are capable of such notoriety, which might jeopardise security in the host cities, hotels, public places and venues. For instance, if an undetected bomb detonates somewhere, it would lead to irretrievable losses of lives and property.

In fact, Putin’s reelection has sparked divided reactions from the various nations worldwide. While some countries have been eschewing the possibility of forging alliances with Russia, the rest have sharply argued and condemned the fact that Putin is set against the western liberal ideas. Countries like Iran, China, Venezuela and Japan have speedily congratulated the president, and have mooted their support for him. Under such mixed reactions from the nations worldwide there could be chances of spurts of violence and skirmishes in the host cities and public places. This is because people from these countries would be thronging here to watch the matches, and miscreants could use this opportunity to sabotage the grand event.

As far as international politics is concerned, Russia has earned a controversial reputation through its alleged involvement and interference in the 2016 US elections. It is believed that the Russian hackers had been hired for sourcing out clandestine data and sensitive information, which turned the tables against the Democrats. This resulted in great tribulations among Hillary Clinton’s party members, and sparked heady criticism worldwide.

Also, tensions mounted between Russia and Great Britain over the murder of a Russian spy in the British territory. This resulted in a stiff face off between the two nations, while the other countries jumped into the bandwagon to voice their protests against the misdeed. The Trump administration dented the schism further by expelling the Russian diplomats from America, and the US allies followed suit as a mark of condemnation against Russia’s profligate action on the British soil. The Russian government retaliated by expelling equal number of diplomats from the United States and its allies from its own territory.  

These political upheavals, however, should not impinge security during the World Cup tournament, since Russia has welcomed visitors from the different nations to partake in the grand event. 

Terrorism

The intelligence forces have issued red alert regarding possible “lone jihadi” attacks during the summer World Cup. The Russian Islamist militants who have been returning to the country from the war ravaged zones in the Middle East post as alarming threats to the country’s security personnel. These terrorists intend to take revenge against the Russian involvement in Syria and Iraq. Since Sunni militancy failed in both the countries, the ISIS has been fanning hatred via online propaganda and encrypted messages to provoke “lone wolf” attacks during the tournament. This would certainly revive the group’s popularity among its erstwhile followers, which went crashing due to Russia’s clout in both the countries. Besides, the Caucasian rebels who suffered indiscriminate sufferings due to the ongoing wars would take this opportunity to tarnish Russia’s image on the global front.  

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