It's hard not to laugh when a man's hat is blown off in the wind and he trips and falls in a puddle whilst chasing it and is then run over by a bus. Well, it is when you know the man and he's a total pain in the rectum! When similar events afflict an entire country, and moreover, one that it is under the command and control of murderous, thieving gangsters then, in a gloomy world, one is deeply grateful for a chance to cry with laughter rather than anguish.
So an article in Spiegel has risked causing my keyboard to short out as the tears of laughter roll down my cheeks. Some economic swots in Zurich have produced this table comparing the cost of individual seats in the World Cup stadia when worked out against total construction costs:
- South Korea/Japan 2002: estimated $6,000 per seat
- Germany 2006: $3,200
- South Africa 2010: $5,000
- Brazil 2014: $6,500
- Russia 2018: $11,500
The cost of each seat in the main World Cup stadium in St. Petersburg is estimated to be around $16,500. The stadium was started in 2007 and - please don't snigger - was expected to be finished at the end of 2008:
It was supposed to cost $415 million, but current reports indicate the price tag has risen to as high as $1.2 billion. The opening is now planned for 2016. To be on the safe side, the city of St. Petersburg recently even considered constructing a back-up stadium with 25,000 seats just in case.
The late and dead crafty Prince Grigory Aleksandrovich Potemkin-Tavricheski, the constructor - 'builder' is an insult to a noble profession - of all those Potemkin villages which so entranced Empress Catherine as she watched the happy peasants dancing and prancing happily(!) for her on her grand tours must be enjoying a ghostly laugh of his own when he realises that an old Russian tradition, roughly translated as 'bullshit baffles brains' is still going strong helped, no doubt, by the fairly recent examples of Stalin's tractor stats.
Still, one feels a twinge of sympathy for Sports Minister Mutko (or possibly 'Mugco'!) who had the temerity to seek to put a ceiling on all stadia costs. Enter stage right, with smoke and drums, Gennady Timchenko, the owner of Russian engineering and construction company Stroytransgaz. He is an old mate comrade of 'Vlad the Impaler' and not only is he opposed to any limits, he is actually demanding even more money! So, word to the wise, 'Mugco', old chap, shut the fuck up, take the bung and live a long life!
Needless to say, all these bright, new, shiny Potemkin stadia will never be used again. The big ones can seat 75,000 people but the average gate for the top teams in Russia is 12,500. It's all hilarious until you suddenly remember the ordinary people, thousands of whom have probably been thrown out of their homes to make way for all this Putinesque grandeur. Pass the sick bag!