Covering the 2018 World Cup

INSI recently held a series of meetings for its members on covering the FIFA World Cup. The following information is an extract taken from a members’ advisory on covering the Russia 2018 tournament safely.

Experts downplayed the threats of hooliganism and terrorism at the FIFA World Cup in Russia in June but warned journalists they may be under constant cyber scrutiny by the authorities – even before arriving in the country.

Cyber scrutiny

  • Always assume you are being monitored.
  • Consider the equipment you’ll be taking and whether the latest model of phone is essential or whether a cheap Nokia 3210 would be sufficient. Phones and laptops should be wiped before arriving in Russia.
  • Consider getting a local phone and SIM once you arrive, but make sure you purchase them yourself to ensure they haven’t been tampered with.
  • Never leave your laptop unattended, even in your hotel room.
  • Using hotel or public Wi-Fi isn’t recommended as it does not afford high levels of security and is vulnerable to being hacked.
  • If you are using a VPN, remember that end-to-end encryption is illegal in Russia without a license. WhatsApp is commonly used however.
  • Be extremely cautious if electronic items in your room appear to have been moved while you were out.
  • Remember to take your passport and accreditation wherever you go. It will be essential if you are stopped, questioned or harassed.


  • There is no indication of a coordinated, pre-meditated hooligan threat.
  • The authorities have led an unprecedented crackdown against Russian hooligan “firms”. Measures include tougher laws and a wave of arrests and searches targeting the most violent groups and their leaders.
  • Any violence at Russian matches is likely to be similar to that in Europe – opportunistic rioting, bullying and criminal damage.
  • The behaviour of foreign hooligans from the UK, Germany, Poland and Croatia is unpredictable, but the difficulty of getting visas for Russia may have discouraged some from travelling to the World Cup.

Crime/terrorism/general threats

  • Terror threats aren’t considered any more extreme than in the UK or other European countries but attacks are always a possibility.
  • LGBT, black and Jewish travellers should take extra care.

For more information on joining INSI and receiving full access to our advisories and other members’ services, get in touch with us at [email protected]