Are you and your pals heading to Russia this year? Now England have made it through to the knockout stages, Gareth Southgate’s clearly vibrant young squad are on a solid position to make a claim on the World Cup that’s so cruelly evaded us for over 50 years. Millions of fans will travel to Russia this summer from across the globe, but sadly this isn’t like any old Holiday, with security on high alert due to the very real possibility of terrorist attacks, violent hooliganism and anti-British sentiments from locals.

British newspaper The Guardian stated that as of the beginning of the tournament, only 8,000 people have signed up to the Foreign Office’s travel advice. MPs say this worryingly low figure means it may be difficult to contact English fans in Russia if a change in the atmosphere, or specific incidents lead the UK government mid-tournament to conclude fans should stay in their hotels or urgently cut short their visit altogether. Following the Russian/English violence at the French hosted Euros in 2016 that resulted in hundreds of football fans being injured, as well as arrested.

Sadly, football violence isn’t the only issue travelers have. In 2018, Russia was ranked in an alarmingly low 45th out of 49 European countries for LGBTQ rights by ILGA-Europe.  There are currently no laws that exist to protect LGBTQ people from discrimination on the grounds of sexual orientation and/or gender identity. Nick Duffy, current affairs editor of LGBTQ publication Pink News said:

Given the direct threats of violence made to LGBTQ people attending the World Cup and the lack of a credible response from Russian authorities, I would not encourage LGBTQ people to travel to the World Cup. It’s obviously up to individuals to make their own choices about their safety, but indications so far suggest that people who are visibly identifiable as LGBTQ are at risk of targeted violence and discrimination. Foreign tourists who are not accustomed to the country’s hostile environment towards the LGBTQ community may also put themselves at risk under the country’s gay ‘propaganda’ law.”

With the limelight so brightly shone upon the Russian nation right now, FIFA and the Kremlin will likely be doing everything in their power to keep the peace and hold onto a positive image of the country. What are your thoughts? Are you heading to Russia this summer? Let us know in the comments.

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