FIFA World Cup 2018: shortest and longest possible trips for football fans

While reading various travel forums about visiting Russia for the World Cup, I was impressed how adventurous football fans are. Some of them plan to travel across the oceans and follow their National Team for thousands of kilometers in the unknown country and culture. That gave me the idea to calculate longest and shortest possible travel routes for each team. It took me several hours to make the spreadsheet with all possible distances. Google Map used to calculate the distance between the Host Cities to travel by car.

Group Stage and the shortest trip

The final draw will take place in December, so we have only one team with known stadiums to play during the group stage. Hosts, Russian National Team will play in Moscow than in St. Petersburg and Samara. This will make 2481 km trip in total. That is close to the average distance all team will have to cover during the group stage. If we imagine that Hosts will get to the final from the first place in the group – distance covered by them will be 7980 km. Very impressive, but this is just distance between the host cities, we skipped their travel from the Team base camps and back. We can see that the fans will have to cover huge distances by free trains, quick flights or hitchhiking to support their favorite team and players.

Now let’s see the shortest possible travel plan: the team that will be seeded to the H3 spot will have to travel just 760 km between Saransk, Kazan and Samara during the group stage. H3 team fans are quite lucky; they will be able to save a lot with such short trips and even stay in one city and travel only for Match Days.

Now let us check the longest Group Stage Adventure: F3 team will have to cover 4660 km from Nizhny Novgorod to Sochi and Yekaterinburg, that’s 6 times longer than H3 distance. Doesn’t look fair, but that’s Russia.

Knockout stage and the long road to the World Cup Final in Moscow

But what about knockout stage? This is where things a getting serious.

Shortest distance will have to cover fans of the following teams:

  • C4 team if it will win the group, but loose in the semi-final – 3915 km from Saransk to Samara, Moscow, Kazan, Nizhny Novgorod and two last games in St. Petersburg.
  • H3 group winner and finalist will travel 3939 km from Saransk to Kazan and Samara, than Moscow, back to Samara and two last matches in Moscow.

We have 3 most (un)lucky teams with longest routes that will have to cover more than 10 000 Kilometers if they reach the final day matches:

  1. If F3 team win the group and play in the Third place play-off – 10434 km from Nizhny Novgorod to Sochi, Yekaterinburg, St. Peterburg, Samara, Moscow and back to St. Petersburg.
  2. If C3 will become a runner-up in the group and reach the Third place play-off – 10162 km from Saransk to Yekaterinburg, Sochi, Nizhny Novgorod back to Sochi than Moscow and St. Peterburg.
  3. And if B3 team will reach the final from second place in the group their fans will have to cover 10656 km to follow all 7 matches from Sochi to Kazan then Kaliningrad back to Sochi, Nizhny Novgorod, St. Petersburg and Moscow. There are slightly shorter routes, but you would probably try to avoid Ukraine and Crimea due to ongoing military conflict there.

So the longest route is almost 3 times longer than the shortest one. Any football fan that will make it all the way will deserve a medal. So let’s wait for the end of Qualifying Matches and the Final Draw and see what teams and fans will be traveling to Kaliningrad next summer!

Note that top 7 teams from the FIFA ranking will take position “1” in groups as Seeded Teams. It’s Germany, Brazil, Portugal, Argentina, Belgium, Poland, Switzerland at the moment. But they still need to qualify to earn that place. All other teams will have their positions randomly drawn.

p.s. It’s clear that all calculations above is very approximate, I didn’t take into account where you enter or leave Russia, ignored exact venue locations,  longest trips will be made by plane, etc. You can download this spreadsheet and play with that data by yourself.

I just wanted to show how greatly I admire all football fans that dare to plan such great trip next summer. You are welcome to Russia! And feel free to ask any questions about visiting Kaliningrad or any other Host City for FIFA World Cup 2018. We will do our best to help you! And next time I plan to write more helpful article than this one. 😉 Cheers.

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