2018 FIFA World Cup: protect your health and score!

Jean-Marc Ferré

With the 21st Fédération Internationale de Football Association (FIFA) World Cup just around the corner, many people across the world are waiting eagerly to fly to the Russian Federation and cheer on their home teams. The Russian Federation’s health authorities, supported by WHO/Europe are preparing for the event; together they have published public health advice to ensure the tournament is safe from public health risks.

“Enjoying your favourite sport while keeping healthy is the game to win. It takes simple measures to make a difference to people’s health,” says Dr Nedret Emiroglu, Director of Programme Management and Director of the Division of Health Emergencies and Communicable Diseases of WHO/Europe. “We are working to have all football fans at FIFA 2018 healthy, and urge all to follow expert guidance.”

Public health advice for travellers to the Russian Federation

The 2018 FIFA World Cup is scheduled to be held in 11 cities of the Russian Federation, from 14 June to 15 July. Travellers going to the country should obtain information about health hazards in the areas they plan to visit and the measures necessary to avoid or minimize the risk of disease or accidents.

Travellers should pay particular attention to the following risks:

  • vaccine preventable diseases
  • vector-borne diseases
  • sexually transmitted infections
  • food- and water-borne diseases
  • smoking, alcohol and other drugs
  • high temperatures.

WHO, the Ministry of Health of the Russian Federation and the 2018 FIFA World Cup Russia Local Organising Committee have also produced a new video campaign targeting football fans to promote healthy lifestyles – covering tobacco use, excessive salt consumption and physical inactivity.

Mass gathering events may give rise to public health risks

Mass gathering events, like the FIFA World Cup, bring together large numbers of people from different corners of the globe, and with it the potential for spread of infections and adoption of high-risk and unhealthy behaviours. At the same time, mass gathering events also offer the momentum to promote healthy choices.

WHO provides advice and technical support to host governments preparing for mass gathering events. As with other such events, WHO will conduct event-based surveillance and risk assessment in relation to the 2018 FIFA World Cup. The goal is to make large international events as safe as possible from public health risks and to encourage a positive public health legacy from these events.