World cup peregruzka

Friday, 24 Nov 2017

The FT's Simon Kuper on Russias World Cup.

In March 2009, US secretary of state Hillary Clinton gave her Russian counterpart a ceremonial red button marked “reset” in English and “peregruzka” in Russian (which doesn’t actually mean “reset”, but “overload”). Putin must have imagined the 2018 World Cup as his version of China’s 2008 Beijing Olympics: a coming-out party for a well-off, confident, modern power.

On December 2 2010, Fifa chose Russia. For Putin, that day may prove the peak of the whole nine-year project. Since then his country’s image in the west has collapsed following Russia’s wars in Ukraine and Syria, its economic decline, an Olympic doping scandal, and meddling in western elections.