ST PETERSBURG: Football fans in Pakistan, rejoice. If you have a ticket for a game at the 2018 FIFA World Cup, you don’t need to apply for visa to travel to Russia.

To top that up, Russia will also have free travel for fans between the 11 host cities, provided you have tickets for the games in those cities in the continent-sized country.

“Russia has an obligation towards FIFA and we’re ready to start,” Russia’s deputy prime minister and the chairman of the local organising committee for the World Cup Vitaly Mutko said at the opening news conference of the FIFA Confederations Cup on Friday, the tournament marking the one-year countdown to next year’s showcase event.

“Everything is working and we’re ready to start. We have taken every possible measure to guarantee security and safety of those travelling to Russia,” he added.

Fans who have tickets and have been issued a ‘Fan ID’ by the Russian government will be allowed to enter Russia without a visa for the period surrounding the World Cup.

“We have a visa-free regime for those who have tickets for the Confederations Cup and the World Cup,” said Mutko. “Football fans who come from other countries will also have free travel from city to city as well. This is a football feast.”

Alexey Sorokin, the CEO of the local organising committee added: “We have 262 trains offering free transport for fans. The whole programme is in operation.”

Russia used a similar system for the 2014 Winter Olympics in Sochi with fans entering personal information in an online database in order to receive the identification document from the Russian authorities.

Published in Dawn, June 17th, 2017

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