(Persia Digest) - Forbes writes that in this summer's Soccer World Cup, the Russian team is doing better than expected. Victory over Spain earned them a place in the quarter finals. Off the field, the political project to polish Russia's international image is also winning.
In sport, as in business or politics, successful implementation of a strategy takes patience, determination, a lot of time and money, and a willingness to deal with whatever may happen along the way. Russia's long-term planning is paying off .
Russia’s preparations for the World Cup go back at least a decade. It was in 2010 that the country was awarded the right to host the tournament. Even the bid had been the focus of intense effort. This was not a team just making up the numbers.
In 2008, Moscow’s Luzhniki Stadium hosted the final of the UEFA Champions League. For the first -- and so far, the only -- time two English Clubs faced each other. In a thrilling contest, Manchester United overcame Chelsea. The winning team then included one of the star players of this tournament, Cristiano Ronaldo (whose Portugal team's exit this weekend will disappoint fans who would have hoped to see more of him).Never before had the Russian capital faced such an influx of foreign football fans, but the techniques tried out then in Moscow worked. Visas – in Russia, as in many places, a lengthy and costly procedure – were waived for match goers. Russia’s riot police, the OMON – known more for their rigorous approach to crowd control than for their customer service – were courtesy itself on the night of the game.
It seemed pretty clear then, with officers taking the trouble to offer directions to foreign journalists whom they might normally ignore, that the orders to behave had come from the very top. The final was a memorable victory for Manchester United, and for Russia -- which had proved itself as a host for major matches.
It was the try-out for 2018 – but why bother? Hosting the tournament is estimated to have cost Russia some $11 bn – and analysts have cast doubt on whether the economy will benefit as much as had been hoped.