This year, Russia is hosting the 2018 World Cup. Many people from all over the world are attending the World Cup. Some may be wondering, what is accessibility at the 2018 World Cup like?
Accessibility at the 2018 World Cup by the Numbers
According to a BBC news video, people bought 22,000 special access tickets to the World Cup. Special access tickets are for people with mobility impairments. That means that accessibility at the 2018 World Cup affected 22,000 people. However, that number only represents people who bought the special access tickets. Chances are that accessibility at the 2018 World Cup affected more people.
Accessibility at the 2018 World Cup for Visitors
In the BBC video, Paul from England uses a mobility scooter to attend the World Cup in Russia. He has a chronic nerve condition that causes extreme pain in his legs. To start, the video shows Paul approach some public steps. The stairs have metal slats at one side for wheelchairs. The slats are thin and need precision steering. Moreover, the angle is steep. In fact, it’s far too steep for a wheelchair user to attempt. Paul decides to avoid that hazard altogether. Notably, he admits that he had mobility and accessibility concerns when planning his trip.
Paul says that while there are some ramps and lifts available in Russia, there are no ramps or lifts at the Moscow Metro Station. Paul receives help getting to the train when four workers carry him and his scooter onto the escalator. Additionally, the workers hold him in place on the way down. Paul says he thinks it is “safe enough” but are his independence and dignity kept intact?
The head of Sustainability and Diversity for FIFA World Cup says that 22,000 special access ticket sales are a record for FIFA, meaning that accessibility at the 2018 World Cup is vital. However, World Cup organizers must work within Russia’s existing structure since the World Cup does not have the power to change the accessibility system in Russia.
Accessibility in Russia
Paul had a mixed accessibility experience. While he was not able to use the slats at the public steps and he was carried down the escalator by workers at the Metro Station, Paul does point out that the arena is very modern and equipped with lifts and ramps. However, some native Russians may disagree with Paul’s account. A Russian fan with a disability says the accessibility in Russia is poor. What’s more, he argues that improvements for the World Cup will not last. According to FIFA, Russia is trying hard to ensure good access for World cup 2018 fans, but the BBC video ends with a question. Will accessibility efforts continue in Russia after the 2018 World Cup has been won? Time will tell.