FIFA World Cup Host City – Samara


Samara World Cup 2018 Russia Host City

View of the city of Samara in the Volga River @ mix7777 Depositphotos

We have been investigating the 11 Russian Host Cities which will be bringing you the FIFA World Cup 2018 Russia‘a games.

We have already looked at St. Petersburg, Ekaterinburg, Kazan and the capital city of the Republic of Mordovia – Saransk.

Samara – an important Russian City

Today we will be visiting the most Eastern host city namely Samara. It is the capital of the Samara region and is quite large, with 1.13 million people and being the sixth largest Russian City. The city was known as Kubyshev between 1935 and 1991 to honor the Bolshevik Valerian Kubyshev.

In fact this is quite an important city as the Soviets had planned this city to be the capital city of the Soviet Union if Moscow had fallen to the Nazis. In fact, many diplomats were actually evacuated there and there is even a 37 meter deep bunker built to house Stalin but never used.

Sadly though the 1.5 million Germans who lived in Samara before World War II either were forced to leave or put into forced-labor camps. After the War, the City became a closed city focused on military city. And eventually they played a major part in the Soviet space program including the building of the Vostok launch vehicle which sent Yuri Gagarin into space.

Samara itself was founded in 1586 becoming an official city in 1688. It has had a turbulent history. It was initially a Township inhabited by soldiers on the order of the Tsar of the time, Tsar Feodor 1 the Blessed to protect and control the area around the Volga.

A growing city

From there, it grew becoming a City as we have seen in 1688 and it grew with trade especially from the East. In 1780, Samara got serious and established some government institutions before reaching 15,000 inhabitants by 1850. In 1900 it was at 90,000 and by 1915, incredibly at 150,000. The ships coming along the Volga as well as the railway lines played a big part as did the city and region’s development of wheat becoming the largest flour producer in the whole of  Russia. Added to its trade status, it was serious developing.

In 1921, there was a lot of hunger after the City fell to the Red Army in 1918.

Today, Samara is high-tech and involved especially in aerospace including satellites and space services. It produces a lot of edible materials including chocolate, vodka, beer and food processing amongst others. Finally recovering somewhat after a difficult post-Soviet period.

There is lots to do and see here including the famous Cosmos Museum, Stalin’s bunker and many activities including boat rides along the Volga river, which is the largest river in Europe.

Samara and the FIFA 2018 World Cup Matches

The Samara Cosmos Arena which is planned to hold 45,000 is quite an important venue as it will host six matches including a Group game involving Russia and both a Round of 16 and a World Cup Quarterfinal. This is a real honor for a city not called Moscow or St. Petersburg. Here are the games being hosted in Samara:

17 June 2018 16:00 – E3 vs E4 – Group E
21 June 2018 19:00 – C4 vs C2 – Group C
25 June 2018 18:00 – A4 vs Russia – Group A
28 June 2018 18:00 – H2 vs H3 – Group H
2 July 2018 18:00 – 1E vs 2F – Round of 16
7 July 2018 18:00 – W55 vs W56 – Quarter Final

Weather and Temperature

Russian Government Building Samara, Russia Original Vintage Postcard

Samara during June and July is generally quite humid and this is because of the precipitation levels and being so close to the Volga river. It can go from 29% to 98% humidity so please prepare yourseld. Although the average relative humidity is between 64-67% in June and July. The actual temperature has a daily average of 19.7 degrees Celsius in June (67.5 degrees Fahrenheit) and 21.5 degrees Celsius in July (70.7 degrees Fahrenheit). There are also an average of 15 rainy days in June and 14 rainy days in July so you will experience the conditions.

Soccer in Samara

Krylia Sovetov FC Russia Samara Soccer Football Vinyl Sticker 3 X 5 inches

FC Krylia Sovetov Samara is the local football team in Samara. They were founded in 1942 and are in the Russian Premier League reaching third place in 2004 as their best ever Russian Premier League performance.Before that, their best achievement in the USSR Championship was 4th place in 1951.

Krylia Sovetov means “Wings of the Soviets” which reflects the City’s focus on space and aerospace.As per their English Language website, have played in the UEFA Cup reaching the first round in 2005/06 losing to AZ Alkmaar of Holland. And they lost in the Third Qualifying round of the UEFA Europa League in 2009/10 to St. Patrick’s Athletic of Ireland.

After the World Cup 2018, Krylia will take over the Samara Cosmos Arena and leave their current Metallurg Stadium. Watch FIFA’s Official Video on FC Krylia Sovetov Samara.



FIFA World Cup 2018 Host City – Saransk


saransk russia fifa world cup 2018 host city

SARANSK, RUSSIA – World Cup Host City Mordovia State University Copyright @ alendelong DepositPhotos

Here at Destination Soccer, we are getting you ready for the FIFA World Cup 2018. We already know some of the regional champions. We have Cristiano Ronaldo‘s Portugal triumphing at Euro 2016 and Chile for the second time in two years beating Lionel Messi’s Argentina for the Copa America.

But where will these teams actually play when they get to Russia 2018?

Well, we have been investigating the Host Cities. Already we have looked at the beautiful St. Petersburg and then Ekaterinburg which is Russia’s fourth largest city and then the incredibly interesting capital of the Republic of Tatarstan – Kazan. (These are real names believe me).

Today’s Host City, we have to be honest. We had never heard of this city – Saransk. This goes to show just how mystical and how unexplored a lot of Russia is for most of the World.

That is one of the goals of a World Cup. It is not just the football and hosting it but bringing the world to explore parts of the world they have never seen before. Many English people traveled across Germany for the first time during the 2006 World Cup and it completely changed that country’s view of their former World War II enemy.

With Russia, we hope for people to really understand it is not just about Putin and Moscow but there is a whole world behind this. So, let’s explore Saransk.

Welcome to Saransk

This is a smaller city located in the center of Russia. With a population of around 339,000, it is actually the capital of the Republic of Mordovia (yes this is a real name!). This is a common thing we are finding about Russia. Many of the Cities which have been chosen to host World Cup 2018 games are the capitals of the Republics they belong to. For example, Kazan is the capital of Tatarstan whilst Saransk is the capital of Mordovia.

The City was founded in 1641 and takes its name from the river on which it sits -the Saranka river. It was actually built as a fortress city on the outskirts of South East Russia. Cossacks were the original peoples living here. The name of the fortress was Saransky Ostrozhek and was an important military location.

Over the decades, Saransk lost its military importance and was more important for trade and crafts.

Saransk City Day is on the 12th of June, two days before the World Cup 2018 starts and four days before Saransk’s first World Cup hosted match. So if you are visiting Saransk it might be worth you popping down there a little earlier.

The Republic of Mordovia is where all of the Finno-Ugric nations began. There are the Moksha and Erzya ethnic groups in the region, who were here long before Russia was formed. Today Saransk is world famous for the new Russian citizen – the actor Gerard Depardieu who has lived in the city since 2013. Perhaps you might bump into him on your way to the game or when you are wandering around the city?

Saransk and World Cup 2018 Matches

Saransk is home to the Mordovia Arena which will allow around 40,000 fans to watch the four Group games planned for the city. The stadium is located very centrally alongside the Insar River. The oval design reflects the unique bright colors of Mordovia’s arts and crafts which makes it unique amongst the World Cup 2018 Stadiums.

16 June 2018 19:00 – C3 vs C4 – Group C
19 June 2018 18:00 – H3 vs H4 – Group H
25 June 2018 21:00 – B4 vs B1 – Group B
28 June 2018 21:00 – G2 vs G3 – Group G

Soccer in Saransk

FK Mordoviya Saransk - Russia Football Soccer Futbol - Car Sticker - 5

The local team is FC Mordovia Saransk who will take over the Mordovia Arena after the World Cup. The capacity will be reduced to under 30,000 for the club’s games. This club was technically founded in 1961 although its current format was set up in 2005 through the merger of two clubs.

Unfortunately, the 2015/16 season in the Russian Premier League did not go too well for FC Mordovia Saransk with the club being relegated to the Russian National League, the league under the Russian Premier League. It has had a bit of a yo-yo time winning promotion and then being relegated from the Russian Premier League in recent times. See a profile of the team on FIFA TV.

Full Destination Soccer coverage of the FIFA World Cup 2018

FIFA World Cup 2018 Host City – Kazan

(c) John Perry - Flickr

(c) John Perry – Flickr

We have been investigating the FIFA World Cup 2018 Host Cities, having already looked at St. Petersburg and Ekaterinburg. There are 11 host cities in total and let’s investigate another city in Russia – Kazan.

The History

Kazan is one of the oldest cities in Russia. In fact, in 2005, it celebrated its 1,000th birthday, having been founded in the year 1005. How is that for history?


The City

Kazan is the capital city of the Republic of Tatarstan. It has a population of 1.1 million people, making it Russia’s eight largest City. What is interesting in this city is the breakdown of the people. Around 47-48% of the people are ethnic Russians and the same percentage again are ethnic Tartars.

It is located 825 miles away from Moscow. According to the official FIFA World Cup 2018 website, there are over 100 different nationalities in Kazan.

The Tartar people speak their own language Tartar and are predominantly Sunni Muslim. This mix just shows how huge and ethnically diverse Russia is. Something the West does not always see.

In 2015, Kazan was visited by 2.1 million tourists, more than the actual population. The Kazan Kremlin was visited by 1.5 million tourists in 2015. The City is divided into seven districts with the Sovetsky district having the most people at 275,514.

Football in Kazan

FC Rubin Kazan is the local soccer team playing in the Russian Premier League. They play at the Kazan Arena which is the venue for the World Cup 2018 games.

Rubin Kazan was founded in 1958 and only actually joined the highest level of football in 2003. They won the Russian Premier League in both 2008 and 2009 plus the 2011-12 Russian Cup.

They have a multinational team including Frenchman Yann M’Vila and have played in both the UEFA Champions League and the UEFA Europa League on regular occasions.

Temperature in June/July

So let’s get down to the weather. Kazan has warm, dry summers but not oppressive. The mean or average summer temperatures are 18.1 degrees Celsius in June (64.6 degrees Fahrenheit) and 20.2 degrees Celsius in July (68.4 degrees Fahrenheit). The average highs in July can get upto 25.5 degrees Celsius (77.9 degrees Fahrenheit) which is hardly bad compared to many parts of Europe which can be really oppressive during the hot summer months.

Kazan and the World Cup 2018

The Kazan Arena with an expected capacity of 45,000 people will be hosting six matches during the FIFA World Cup 2018. This includes a round of 16 game and even a quarter final:

16 June 2018 13:00 – C1 vs C2 – Group C
20 June 2018 21:00 – B4 vs B2 – Group B
24 June 2018 21:00 – H1 vs H3 – Group H
27 June 2018 17:00 – F4 vs F1 – Group F
30 June 2018 17:00 – 1C vs 2D – Round of 16
6 July 2018 21:00 – W53 vs W54 – Quarter Final

FIFA World Cup 2018 Coverage

Full Destination Soccer World Cup 2018 Coverage.

FIFA World Cup 2018 Host City – Ekaterinburg


Ekaterinburg City

The FIFA World Cup 2018 Russia is reaching out all across this huge sprawling nation which spans multiple time zones. One of the 11 Host Cities is the beautiful city of Ekaterinburg.

The City of Ekaterinburg

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Ekaterinburg (also called Yekaterinburg) is the fourth largest City in Russia with a population of 1.4 million people and is to the east of Moscow.

The History of Ekaterinburg

Like many Russian Cities, it had a different name under Communism. It used to be called Sverdlovsk between 1924 and 1991 as the city was named after the Communist party leader Yakov Sverdlov. Founded in 1723 officially becoming a town in 1796. It grew with the metal-working industry including iron and it became the “window on Asia” based on its industry and location.

It is also infamous as the location where the Tsar and his family were imprisoned and executed after the October Revolution in 1918.

Also the movie Bridge of Spies with Tom Hanks and the Oscar winning actor Mark Rylance and directed by Steven Spielberg captures some of this town. It was where the American pilot Francis Gary Powers in 1960 was captured by the Soviets after his U-2 spy plane was shot down. He was found guilty of being a spy and sentenced to seven years of hard labor. He only served one year as the movie recounts, being exchanged for the Russian spy Rudolph Abel.

Another famous outing for this city was captured in the spectacular book The Dead Hand – the history of the Cold War under Gorbachev and Reagan and others. There was an anthrax outbreak at the secret biological military facility. The Soviets were prohibited from producing these kinds of materials under Treaties they had signed banning all biological weapon production.

Several people died and the authorities stated this came naturally from animals. Only years later was the suspected truth finally confirmed to the wider public.

Sverdlovsk is also the home of the former President of Russia – Boris Yeltsin and was actually chosen by him as a back-up capital to Moscow in case they ever had to evacuate Moscow to run the Russian Federation.

Football in Ekaterinburg

The local soccer team in Ekaterinburg is Ural Sverdlovsk Oblast or FC Ural Yekaterinburg. which was founded in 1930 and plays in the Russian Premier League in the Central Stadium. This is the Stadium which is being rebuilt for the World Cup 2018 and will be called Ekaterinburg Arena.

Their most famous player is the former Russian striker Roman Pavlyuchenko who was part of the Euro 2008 team which reached the semi-finals of the tournament. They finished 8th in the League in the 2015/16 season, the season before Euro 2016.

The Stadium

The Ekaterinburg Arena will hold 45,000 and will host four Group games during the tournament with all of them being held during June 2018:

15 June 2018 17:00 – A3 vs A4 – Group A
21 June 2018 17:00 – C1 vs C3 – Group C
24 June 2018 20:00 – H4 vs H2 – Group H
27 June 2018 19:00 – F2 vs F3 – Group F


The temperatures in June in Ekaterinburg tend to be moderately hot. Usually around 17.1 degrees Celsius in June (62.8F) and 19.0 degrees Celsius in July (66.2F) with the average high being around 23-24 degrees Celsius (74F) over this period. It has a humid continental climate.

FIFA World Cup 2018 Host City – St. Petersburg


Peter The Great of St Petersburg

St. Petersburg. The beautiful and European part of Russia built in a swamp by Peter the Great himself. A brutal undertaking but one Peter the Great felt needed to be taken to bring Russia alongside the West. It is a port city on the Baltic Sea.

Founded originally in 1703, St. Petersburg now has a population of just under 5 million people. It is the second largest City in Russia and is a Federal City. If you do get the chance to watch some games in this City, definitely take the opportunity. The State Hermitage Museum is one of the wonders of the world. In fact, the whole city is a UNESCO Heritage site.

It is a cultural paradise with some of the greatest writers of all time being based in the City in the 19th Century. There was a lot of antagonism at that time between the well to do people in this City and those of the more traditional and ‘Russian’ Muscovites.

Indeed in many quarters for a long time, French was the main language spoken as everyone tried to mimic the West. After the Russian Revolution, the City was renamed to Leningrad. In the Second World War, the Nazis laid siege to the City and the civilian casualties were estimated to have reached one million over this period. The name was only changed back in a referendum in 1991.

Today, according to the official FIFA World Cup 2018 St. Petersburg page, every year 5 million tourists visit St. Petersburg, the most of any Russian city. With the World Cup, this figure will swell even further.

With world class Museums and galleries, there is no surprise. The stunning architecture and the beautiful

The Football

Well, the West – and indeed the rest of the World visits St. Petersburg in 2018.

This city will play host to several games all to be played at the Zenit Arena – future home of the mighty Zenit St. Petersburg. Well, the became mighty once Gazprom gas company assisted them. I did read in The Blizzard magazine of their plight like so much of Russia after the fall of Communism and how their team once almost did not have enough money to return home after a trip to the other side of the vast country.

However they did win the UEFA Europa League Trophy in recent times. Andriy Arshavin was one of the star footballers to play for them. They have a distinction compared to Moscow being the main team of the City versus Moscow which has several major teams e.g. Spartak, CSKA, Lokomotiv Moscow and others.

World Cup 2018 Dates

7 games will be played in St. Petersburg during the 2018 World Cup Finals.

15 June 2018 17:00 – B3 vs B4 – Group B
19 June 2018 21:00 – Russia vs A3 – Group A
22 June 2018 15:00 – E1 vs E3 – Group E
26 June 2018 21:00 – D4 vs D1 – Group D
3 July 2018 17:00 – 1F vs 2E – Round of 16
10 July 2018 21:00 – W57 vs W58 – Semi Final
14 July 2018 17:00 – L61 vs L62 – Third Place

With a quarter final, semi-final, one of Russia’s Group games and the Third Place Play Off, St. Petersburg definitely will be hosting some of the main games of the tournament.

The Zenit Arena holds 68,000 fans. Well – that is according to Stadium Guides and according to the plan. It is bring constructed and proposed to be completed in 2017 with a location of Krestovsky Island in the Neva river bay. And it is estimated to be going to cost $1 billion which would be monumental.


There are numerous flights available direct to this major international city. You can hopefully get to see The Hermitage and other Museums. The temperatures in June and July average from 20-23 degrees Celsius to 35 degrees Celsius (70 to 95 degrees Fahrenheit). Pretty warm and humid.