Algeria vs. Russia would have been a strong starting point for the European country to rally support for their 2018 World Cup. But Russia fell a goal short at the 2014 World Cup from advancing. Algerian striker Islam Slimani scored an equalizer in the 60th minute, and that goal would go on to define Russia’s fate at this year’s tournament.
Russia won the bid for the 2018 tournament, and their performance in Brazil could paint a picture close to what their squad may look like four years from now. Mexico withdrew its bid to host in 2018, and FIFA rejected Indonesia‘s bid. That left Russia to compete with England, Netherlands/Belgium and Spain/Portugal. Probably considered to be the least soccer crazy nation of all the other ones listed above, Russia winning the bid has led to widespread criticism of FIFA and speculation of corruption. This is nothing new for the worldwide governing body. Adding even more fuel to the fire, Qatar was awarded the 2022 World Cup. Qatar is currently ranked 100 in the FIFA world rankings, and they do not have anywhere near the facilities or infrastructure necessary to host an event of the World Cup’s magnitude.
Surprisingly, Algeria is Africa’s top-ranked nation according to FIFA, at No. 22. Along with Nigeria, they are two of five African nations advancing to the Round of 16 at the World Cup. Russia, ranked No. 19, needed to succeed more than Algeria did. Though it is still four years away, rallying support for the billions of dollars the country will spend and invest by hosting in 2018 is important. Russia failed to do that in their crucial Group H match.
Moving forward, hopefully 2018 will not be similar to the Olympic Games in Sochi earlier this year. Media reports ran rampant about delayed and unfinished projects, as well as human rights violations. The violations primarily surrounded Russian President Vladimir Putin and his stance on homosexuality.
If Russia is to put forth a memorable event in four years time, both their soccer team and their country as a whole need to take significant steps forward.