Weekly Success Digest #5: World Cup Project Management

What comes to mind with the words “World Cup project management?”

Planning major international sporting events is an gargantuan undertaking. Planning for one sporting event is meticulous – from transport arrangements, to traffic planning, to hotel availability, to ticket arrangements, providing adequate security, preparing the stadium, hiring and training adequate staff for events…just to name a few! The World Cup multiplies all that by 25 matches, and is played in multiple cities across a country. Planning a tournament is no easy feat, and can often go wrong. The success of the event is dependent on project management!

With World Cup 2018 kicking off in Russia on June 14th, let’s take a look at Russia’s World Cup project management preparations and planning for the event – but first, a look back to the previous World Cup.

World Cup 2014: A Project Management Disaster

The previous World Cup in Brazil was a project management disaster. Brazil spent $13.5 billion on the World Cup, built seven new stadiums to spread out the games over twelve cities, and eventually had to embarrassingly admit that this was a mistake. Travel between these cities could only be done through air travel. Even when planning level research uncovered the impossibility of upgrading the airports in time for the games, then-President Rousseff grandly announced it would be done anyways – only for the upgrading effort to fail miserably, and create an even bigger disaster. Adding to the list of project management mistakes made by Brazil, substandard risk management planning left them struggling to deal with an outbreak of swine flu in a (poorly chosen) host city before the games began. At least the games went alright, especially for Germany.

The World Cup 2018 in Russia seems to have been planned better. FIFA, the governing body that is in charge of the World Cup, is satisfied with Russia’s preparations and planning – that is a good sign!

The Stadiums

The 21st World Cup will have 64 matches played over 25 days, held in 12 stadiums located in 11 different cities: Moscow, Saint Petersburg, Kaliningrad, Kazan, Nizhny Novgorod, Rostov-on-Don, Samara, Saransk, Sochi, Volvograd, and Yekaterinburg. Moscow will have two stadiums used in the city. Each stadium features unique designs, with themes from the local city and history built into their architecture. Nine brand new stadiums have been constructed for the event, and the other three have been heavily renovated. The smallest among them hold 35,000 people – and the largest two will seat 80,000 and 67,000. All the stadiums hosting World Cup games have been photographed from space

Planning The Full Tourist Experience

Russia has gone a step further than just preparing for matches, having planned tourist experiences in each hosting city. People need something to do when they’re not at the matches! Keeping people occupied and happy is a good goal for a World Cup host country – it improves the economy, keeps violence and public disturbance down to a minimum, and just might bring people back for future vacations. Russia’s tourist plans feature a lot of options centered around the local cuisine, which is an increasingly important part of the tourism industry. Russia is a vast country, and each of the hosting cities have deliciously different styles of food.

Infrastructure Preparations

Russia expects a total of 3 million spectators across the multiple stadiums (and 3 billion spectators for broadcasts!). To ensure the success of the tournament, Russia has spent $9.6 billion in infrastructure investment, including increasing flights, upgrading stadiums, and revamping transport networks. Russia wisely paired matches and locations based on local airport size – this will avoid one of the major problems that occurred in Brazil 2014, and streamline event management. With so many fans coming to cheer on their national teams, and patriotic feelings running high, local police forces are prepared for the games and any possible violence that may occur.

With the games around the corner, it seems Russia has done an adequate job of World Cup project management and planning the tournament’s logistics. Things definitely seem ready to hit the ground running when matches kick off. But that’s not where the project ends!


Abandoned Olympic stadium

The stadiums aren’t going anywhere after the games are over. This is an issue that has plagued Olympic hosts for decades. Maintenance on the buildings is no small task, and doesn’t come cheaply! So many of these stadiums are massive – the local teams do not draw enough fans to fill them, let alone generate profits on such buildings. Who will pay for the stadiums’ upkeep after the World Cup finishes? How will the local governments cope with the expense? As of now, no one knows.

Are You Headed to the World Cup?

Plan you trip to the max using the tips and tricks in our summer travel planning guide. And share your pictures with us! We’ll give you a shout out here on the blog and on our social media accounts, too.