Possibly the only thing harder than smashing a goal past a World Cup defender, is scoring travel bookings to an event attracting millions of global fans. The 2018 FIFA World Cup, which was held this month in Russia, is the biggest single sports event in the world. The event featured 32 teams, including Australia’s Socceroos, who played matches in 11 cities including Moscow, St. Petersburg, Kaliningrad, Kazan, Sochi and Saransk.
For die-hard fans, scoring tickets to the event was a challenge on par with that of the teams vying to qualify. Over 8.4 million ticket requests were received, before the random draw saw just over 2.4 million tickets issued. So spare a thought for the travel managers who were charged with moving teams in, out and around Russia, as millions of fans made the pilgrimage over a period of just four weeks.
Arranging travel around a global sports event like the World Cup is always a challenge, however Stage and Screen know the score having managed previous World Cup campaigns for their client Football Federation Australia (FFA). For the Socceroos, the road to Russia was an exhausting one and Stage and Screen were there every step of the way. As the long time travel partner of FFA, it’s fair to say that the Stage and Screen team celebrated every goal and felt every defeat.
However the one outcome which FFA could bet on, was a smooth travel experience for the team and their entourage. With the national team being drawn from players based around the world, the first challenge was to fly them all to their training camp in Turkey. In preparation for the tournament, Stage and Screen managed the player arrivals with precision timing as they travelled from their respective clubs in cities across Europe, Korea, Canada, Israel, Japan and the United States.
The next stop was Russia, which can be a bit of a tricky place to get to, with limited airlines flying in and out and the huge volume of travellers attending the World Cup. The issue was also compounded by the fact that the Australian squad was only announced a week or so out from the tournament.
Apart from the players there were also flights, visas and passports to wrangle for a support staff of 20, including managers and health professionals, predominantly travelling from Australia. While the team’s personal chef, discovered during the last World Cup in Brazil, was flown in from San Paulo. Another 40-strong group was made up of FFA personnel, Board Members and VIPs all travelling to the Socceroo’s base camp in Kazan in southwest Russia.
Since early 2018 flights were locked in (as much as possible) with Qantas, FFA’s partner airline, with support from Emirates code share flights. But the hard work is never over until the final whistle, with flight changes and confirmations keeping the dedicated Stage and Screen travel managers and after hour’s team on their game.
When the final whistle blew on the Socceroos’ last group match in Sochi, Stage and Screen were ready to pick up the ball. Though it was only 2am in Australia, Travel Manager Edwina Perrotta was already starting the complex process of exiting Russia. Flights home for the FFA members and support staff were made and confirmed, while individual player itineraries had to be worked through as they returned to their clubs around the world.