FIFA Football World Cup 2018: fear that locusts could destroy the tournament pitches

By Jonathan Copping, Stone King LLP, London, United Kingdom

The start of the 2018 World Cup in Russia is just over 4 months away.

From 14 June to 15 July, broadcasters from all over the world will turn their cameras onto Russia, with the focus not only being on the football on the pitches, but also the way of Russian life, off the pitches.

Taking this into account, Russian organisers have been faced with a headache following comments made by Pyotr Chekmarev, the head of the Crop Farming Department of the Russian Agriculture Ministry. His comments relate to a potential problem with swarms of locusts that cover around a million hectares of land in southern Russia. The fear is that the locusts could attack football pitches used to host matches during the World Cup and presumably the pitches used by the competing nations for training.

Chekmarev stated:

We have learnt how to deal with locusts, but how do we not fall into a global scandal with locusts this year. The whole world is coming here. Football fields are green. Locusts love it where there is lots of green”.

There has been no response – yet – from FIFA or the Russian organisers in relation to Chekmarev’s comments; in fact, it seems that his comments that the locusts could become a global scandal are slightly far-fetched.

It is expected that FIFA will want to avoid anything that may affect the spectacle of its flagship tournament.

Whilst different to the issue of locusts, the 2010 World Cup in South Africa featured the repetitive drone of the sound of the Vuvuzela, a plastic horn that produces a loud monotone note. The use of Vuvuzelas led to a number of complaints, as it affected the enjoyment of watching the World Cup, and this ultimately led to Vuvuzelas being banned from future World Cups.

FIFA will no doubt be assessing the issue of the Russian locusts and exploring the ways in which to remove this potential problem.

Likewise, it will be good PR for the Russian hosts to announce that measures have been taken to stop the locusts from attacking the tournament’s football pitches!

Jonathan Copping may be contacted by e-mail at ‘’