The only way to get tickets is via the FIFA website, but they’re not always on sale.
FIFA releases tickets in phases, with the next starting on December 5. It’s a lottery system, so there’s no need to stay up all night to apply first when the window opens.
FIFA says more than 740,000 have been allocated before the draw is even made, most to Russian fans who simply want to see any World Cup game, no matter who is playing.
Prices range from US$115 (A$150) to US$1,100 (A$1445) for foreign fans, depending on the game and level of luxury.
You can’t use a ticket registered to anyone else. That means any tickets bought from scalpers are likely to be useless and could mean trouble with Russian police.
A ticket isn’t enough to get you into the stadium. For that, you need a Fan ID from the Russian government.
That means sending personal information such as passport data, address and phone number to the Fan ID website. The information is processed by the Russia’s FSB, a successor agency to the Soviet-era KGB, which has prompted concern from some fans.
As well as getting to games, the Fan ID also doubles as a Russian visa and transport pass. Citizens of most of the 32 countries at the World Cup would usually need a visa, which means submitting most of the same information and more.
The Fan ID can be cancelled, as many Russian fans found during the Confederations Cup, when officials purged hundreds of people linked to the hardcore fan scene. Some had been linked to hooliganism at the 2016 European Championship, but in many cases the reasons weren’t clear, and any appeals were processed too late for the tournament.
There will be free train services for fans between cities, introducing supporters to Russia’s love of overnight train journeys.
Going from Moscow to Kazan can take 12 hours, or from St. Petersburg to Sochi a tiring 37 hours for the truly adventurous. Thankfully, you’ll have a bed on the train.
Still, many fans will take to the air. There are typically very few plane connections between Russian cities which don’t involve going through one of Moscow’s four airports, though organisers have promised to add extra direct flights for the tournament.
Renting a car in Russia may prove risky because the country has some of Europe’s highest rates of fatal road accidents.
Staying at a hotel or the official campsites being opened in Saransk is simple, but fans using short-term rental services like Airbnb may run into legal trouble.
Foreigners in Russia have to register with the authorities when they arrive in a new city or change where they’re living. There’s usually a window of several days, but that goes down to 24 hours for the period around the World Cup. Hotels register guests automatically - and fans will need to keep registration paperwork and passports on them at all times - but fans will need to contact landlords of rental apartments to arrange their own paperwork.
Not being registered can mean a fine and time spent at the police station. Other potential legal issues to be aware of include flying drones, which can mean a fine without the right documents, and smoking bans around entrances to stadiums and transport facilities.
Expect tight security around stadiums and transport hubs, with thousands of police and National Guard, plus airport-style scanners.
Russian law enforcement uses racial profiling routinely, particularly to stop people from the Caucasus nations or Central Asia for document checks at rail and subway stations.
Foreign fans of non-Slavic appearance may find themselves asked to provide documents, though fans in team colours are less likely to be approached. Russian hooligan attacks on English fans at last year’s European Championship set an ominous tone for the World Cup, though major incidents within Russia recently have been rare.
Russian law enforcement is warning many local hardcore fans to stay away from the tournament, though there’s a potential for trouble if locals feel disrespected by fans of other teams.
FOOD AND DRINK
Bringing your own food with you to Russia isn’t as easy as many fans might expect. Sanctions on imported food from the European Union and other countries - though not strictly enforced for small quantities - could trip you up. Most Russian cities offer a range of international favourites such as pizza and sushi, while many locals prefer spicy, filling food from Georgian restaurants. At the stadiums, expect to find burgers, fries and sponsor-branded beer, while the stadium in Kazan is specialising in the region’s local meat pies.