Saint Petersburg, June 24: Queues for food, beverages and toilets extending upto half a kilometre leave supporters frustrated at the FIFA Fan Park centres in Moscow and St Petersburg during the FIFA World Cup.
Every match of the FIFA World Cup 2018 is telecast on a giant screen at the FIFA Fan Park and visitors are allowed to enter the zones for free, set up in each host city - Moscow, Sochi, Saint Petersburg, Saransk, Samara, Volgograd, Kaliningrad, Kazan, Nizhny Novgorod, Yekaterinburg and Rostov. Each Fan Park sees about 10 lakh rolling visitors daily and consequently, the demand for food and beer is expected to go up.
In Russia's biggest cities, the number of stalls selling these items as well as the toilets made available for fans fall extremely short in the Fan Parks. Around 10-15 stalls serve the entire fans and each one of them have 2-5 counters. You end up waiting for about half an hour every time you want to grab a snack or buy a soft drink. If you end up waiting for the toilet, you are definitely going to miss crucial minutes of the match on the giant screen.
"The food stalls were crowded, especially at half time whenever a match is on," says Abhishek Pathak, who attended the Fan Fests in Kazan and Moscow. "Plus, you will to stand in one line to pay for the beverage first and then in another to collect it. That's a double duty. However, I would still rate the overall experience as a good one because of the concert-like atmosphere and picturesque settings of the Fan Parks."
In other smaller centres like Samara and Saransk, the experience was smoother as the crowd numbers were relatively less.
"I went for the Argentina vs Croatia match at the Fan Fest in Samara," Pavel Narnov, a 23-year-old enthusiast from Moscow, said. "My experience was calm as there weren't many people. The lines for the food stalls were not long but I guess it will be different on a day that Russia is playing. I think every Russian fan will watch the game against Uruguay in every Fan Parks."
Some fans did not mind the wait as they felt the overall atmosphere at the Fan Fest was great. "The Fan Fest was organised pretty well, says Abey Daniel Abraham of Bengaluru, who visited the Moscow fan park." It gave us an opportunity to feel the big atmosphere a day before our game in the stadium. Even though there were sufficient counters for food and beer at times the queues were pretty long and we had to wait 5-10 mins to places orders, especially for food. As the venue in Moscow was outside the city there were shuttles available that made life easy."
Many tourists still had a jolly time at the Fan Fest. The venue has a variety of entertainment options like mini football games, table ice hockey, VR games and Goalkeeper Challenge.
(myKhel.com correspondent Aravind S is in Russia, covering the event though from a typical fan's perspective).