Russian Perceptions ⋆ An Old International

Russian Perceptions

With the World Cup just weeks away travel plans are ready and the excitement slowly but steadily starts to build. A survey brings to light interesting facts and perceptions.

The survey has been conducted by a company called Wanta, which is a Russian research company specialised in listening to what people are saying according to their website. While this may sound stereotypical the questions asked were quite interesting and highlighted several issues. The aim was to understand the perceptions of the FIFA World Cup 2018 in various Russian cities. The methods chosen were interviews, mostly web-based interviews. The question that comes up immediately: what is a web-based interview? Is it a survey? Have the people conducting the study spoken to citizens of the host cities in Russia?

The Company Wanta does exist since 2008 and claims that 50% of its employees hold Phds and that their section heads give lectures nationally as well as internationally. It is a member of ESOMAR the international organisation for market, opinion and social research and data analysis. Wanta states that the group director is a member of ESOMAR.

ESOMAR is the global voice of the data, research and insights community, speaking on behalf of over 4900 individual professionals and 500 companies who provide or commission data analytics and research in more than 130 countries, all of whom agree to uphold the ICC/ESOMAR International Code.


Research Setup

The survey consisted of interviews of approximately 30 minutes and there were 2500 participants. That is a lot of work and one can imagine the effort that was put in by the employees. However, these figures sound a bit too spectacular. The website Get Feedback states that people would expect a huge incentive to sit through a 30 minute interview, regardless if it is an online or a personal interview. Meaning, online surveys and interviews have to be short and precise in order to achieve a high response rate. Therefore, conducting 2500 interviews that lasted 30 minutes appears to be unrealistic. This amounts to 1250 hours of Q&A to be transcribed and analysed. However, modern technology allows these volumes to be processed and recent rumours of Russian intervention in political affairs of other countries suggest a high level of technological nous. Yet, it seems the company went out of their ways to get these figures.

The response rate for online surveys differs. The company Fluid Surveys University says that 24.8% response rate is normal for email surveys that target the general public. This is what Wanta have done, too. SurveyGizmo on the other hand claim a response rate of 10-15%, adding that a lot depends on the survey design and that it is a lot harder to reach out to the wide public and get a good feedback. Coming back to the 2500 responses, this would mean that there were either 10000 people that have received an invitation or in the latter case, SurveyGizmo, the figure is somewhere closer to 25000. Again, no magic number but still an incredible work that has been done. Given the audience was very broad (men & women between 16 & 50, living in the host cities of the World Cup) the figures seem legitimate yet some perspective was necessary and informing.



The research objectives were simple: to asses the perception and attitudes of the citizens of the host cities towards the FIFA World Cup 2018 and if the cities are capable of hosting a large number of visitors from different countries, the attitude of the locals towards foreign travellers and the perception of the people towards visitors form other countries.

What is interesting is that cities like Kaliningrad and Saransk have the most interested citizenship when it comes to the preparation of the World Cup while Moscow and St. Petersburg are the least interested. Almost 50% of those asked have a positive perception of the World Cup and think it will be beneficial for their city.

Of all those among the interviewees only 7% considered themselves as true football fans, 40% are interested in football during major tournaments, 25% are not at all interested in the sport while another 25% would say they are not football fans but like it anyway.

More than 80% will be tuning in and watch matches during the tournament, yet only one in five will actually attend a match. The average price of a ticket is 8000 RUR which means that 30% of people from Saransk, Rostov, Kaliningrad, St. Petersburg and Yekaterinburg are not prepared to pay for a match ticket.

When it comes to visiting fans, the most popular as stated during the interviews are Germany, Spain, France, England (!!!) and Brazil and 37% said that visiting fans are definitely welcome, 34% picked quite welcome and two out of three expected peaceful supporters to come to Russia. Moscow seems to be heading for trouble as 37% think that there will be aggressive football fans coming to the capital. Again, the aforementioned five countries are considered to bring the most fans to Russia.

It is no secret that sexual orientation can be a problem in Russia yet more than 50% are said to be ‘calm without any emotion’ towards LGBTQ supporters with Kazan and Sotchi being the most LGBTQ-friendly cities whereas Saransk is the opposite. The risk of an attack is high in Moscow, Nizhniy and St. Petersburg.

The issue of winning the right to host the World Cup was also subject of the interview and a majority of 71% saw no violation of the rules on Russia’s behalf to get the World Cup. When it comes to match fixing it is quite a different matter as one out of three thinks that matches are likely to be or definitely well bi fixed with Russia, England and Germany the most likely countries to be involved in match fixing.

Ahead of tournaments it has become a sport to predict results or the outcome of a tournament and Russia is not different. Particularly the younger demographic think that the results are predictable. Russia is favoured by 7% to win the World Cup; one in four think Russia will qualify for the knockout stages, while one in five thinks the opposite. The favourite to win the title are Germany followed by Brazil, Russia, Spain and Portugal as the hot favourites. The wider circle consist of Argentina, England and France.

Finally, the last big point is doping and people have no doubt that footballers are no saints: one in three Russians, mainly in Moscow think that players would dope with the Russian team most likely to dope followed by Spain, England, Germany and France.

In summary, a survey is always interesting as it allows to gather opinions which can later be compared with the real thing during the tournament. It is interesting that there are only two handful of countries that get a mention and only two of them are non-European: Brazil and Argentina. Africa or Asia have been excluded while the focus seems to be on Europe. Even in the negative aspects, Europe leads the way, even Russia.

This is no blue print but just a guideline to certain aspects that are important and which have been discussed widely not just ahead of the World Cup but over the last ten to fifteen years. It shows that there is an awareness among the Russians towards issues such as homosexuality, match fixing and doping. While most refuted the idea that Russie may have employed dubious means to host the tournament in the first place, Russia leads the list of possible culprits when it comes to Doping.

The tournament will last four weeks and during that time some perceptions may change depending on circumstances and experiences, therefore an update after the tournament would be helpful in order to provide a perspective. As for now, all eyes and ears are pricked towards Russia to see another football show.

image credits: via WikiCommons CC BY 4.0

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