FIFA World Cup 2018: When the tournament is a bar to bar party in Russia
If the first four days of the FIFA World Cup 2018 is any indication, Russia should have long nights of partying over the next four weeks. The impact of this World Cup on nightlife has been most visible in Moscow where thousands of fans from all over the globe have based themselves.
With bars in the city centre extending working hours, the city’s metro service too has also been putting in longer shifts as fans party till the small hours. On the evening of the Argentina-Iceland game here on Saturday, the metro ran till 3am.
Argentina may not have kicked-off with a bang but business at watering holes was more than good, said Daria, who works at a popular pub on Tverskaya Street.
“We usually close at midnight. Most other pubs here remain open till a few hours after midnight. After Saturday’s game, we shut shop at sunrise,” she said.
It seems all talk of limiting alcohol sales in Moscow during the World Cup has been just that. The city centre seems to be in good spirits with almost all pubs serving deep into the night.
A state clampdown on beer consumption led to a 5% decline in sales in 2017, according to Forbes, as against an expected growth rate of 3-5 %.
The World Cup, however, is expected to boost the sales of beer by 2-3 % this year according to a study by Morgan Stanley.
Russia has also relaxed some restrictions on alcohol sales, including those on sales inside a stadium, for the tournament after pressure from Fifa. After all, beer producer Anheuser-Busch InBev after all is a major Fifa sponsor.
The city centre buzzing till early morning has also meant considerable increase in security cover. The police have been deployed 24/7.
“It’s no problem. More fans, more joy for Moscow,” said a local policeman about his graveyard shift during the weekend.
The heavy police presence and months of reining in football hooligans by local authorities have also meant that no violent incidents have been reported in the four days of competition. That, in turn, has driven more tourists to the city centre.
There had been crowd trouble in Germany and sporadic, though minor, incidents of violence in both South Africa and Brazil. After Russian hooligans invaded Marseille during Euro 2016, there were fears that the World Cup could come under attack.
So far, the ‘war’ has only been on the pitch. Peace has reigned off it. And the fans are loving it.