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There’s a consequence to holding the World Cup in the largest country on earth: the travel isn’t exactly light.
This year’s World Cup in Russia will take place in 11 cities, from Kaliningrad in the west to Ekaterinburg, which is east of the Ural Mountains. If your knowledge of Russian geography is based on the board game Risk, none of the host cities stretch as far east as Yakutsk or Kamchatka.
And no team will have to criss-cross Russia like Egypt. This is part bad luck and part design by the Egyptians. Each country chooses a base and training ground, and Egypt set up its camp in Grozny, the capital city of Chechnya. That’s between the Black Sea and Caspian Sea, closer to the borders with Azerbaijan and Georgia than it is to any of the cities where the World Cup will be played.
With games in Ekaterinburg, Saint Petersburg and Volgograd—and trips back to Grozny in between games—the Egyptians could expect to travel approximately 5,300 miles during the group stage. For some perspective: Grozny is closer to Cairo than it is to Saint Petersburg.
Egypt’s tally is an outlier, roughly 1,000 miles more than any other team in the tournament. Still, the average team will travel 2,700 miles between cities and their base camps during the group stage, with 12 squads going more than 3,000 miles. If you worry about how these long trips could affect one of the favorites, Brazil should be on your radar: The Brazilians will go about 3,700 miles, more than any of the other tournament favorites.
Other countries are stationed right where they are going to play. Ten teams, including reigning world champion Germany, have set up camp in the Moscow area.
The team with the easiest itinerary? Colombia is stationed in the Tatarstan Republic, and its capital city is Kazan—where the Colombians play their second game. It’s also not terribly far from Colombia’s other two sites, Saransk and Samara, giving Colombia a tournament-low 750 travel miles during the group stage.
That means Colombia will have to do less traveling around Russia than the Russians, who still have an easy go of it—logging just 1,300 miles.
Write to Andrew Beaton at [email protected]
Appeared in the June 13, 2018, print edition as ‘From Ekaterinburg to St. Petersburg to Kaliningrad.’