Reflections on my nation’s first World Cup


Working from home with Hyundai at Russia 2018

Eugene Pevtsov, Partnership Development Manager

Eugene, Partnership Development Manager for our team in the Middle East, spent time with the iLUKA team this summer on the ground at his ‘home’ World Cup. Originally from St. Petersburg, he offers a Russian’s perspective on the tournament.

It’s been a month since the final whistle at the 2018 FIFA World Cup in Russia was blown and France emerged victorious, but the memories of the tournament are still alive and will stay long in the hearts of all those who were involved in one capacity or another.

Thanks to the CSM team in the Middle East and iLUKA Russia, I had the chance to experience the event first hand and participate in the activation of Hyundai’s sponsorship as a city manager in St. Petersburg. “Be There With Hyundai” is one of the most exciting and emotional programmes out of all programmes activated by various FIFA partners. It provides an opportunity for regular football fans to become part of the football celebration, meet their national team, explore a new city and attend a World Cup match – a truly once in a life time experience.

Hyundai ran a competition where football fans around the world were asked to create a slogan for their team. Thousands of submissions were received and eventually 32 slogans were selected based on a public vote. Each slogan was printed on a team bus and the authors, along with their companions, were invited to Russia.

After a busy first half of the day touring the most beautiful city in Russia (my home town, St. Petersburg!), Hyundai guests were allowed to greet their national team players as they entered the team bus and escort them to the stadium as part of the convoy. Once at the stadium, the guests were given the VIP treatment, with the chance to have a glimpse backstage and absorb the pre-match atmosphere behind the scenes, which is off-limits to regular fans. This was followed by the undoubted climax of the trip, where Hyundai guests were able to watch the match and cheer their country to victory.

The programme was activated in 7 cities and 8 stadiums, with 2 in Moscow. A team of over 60 people managed activations at 23 matches throughout the group stage of the World Cup. Each city manager had to coordinate photographers, translators, drivers, film crews as well as communicate with the FIFA marketing team to ensure a smooth execution of the programme.

Like any other activation, the unexpected did happen, ranging from kosher food requests from guests to unpredictable weather conditions. Happily, though, everything was easily resolved owing to the careful planning by iLUKA and continuous communication between all parties involved on the ground. iLUKA HQ in Moscow was always available to support city managers no matter where they were.

The most important part of all this is that, thanks to Hyundai and iLUKA, 60 football fans left Russia full of positive emotions from the programme, the city they visited, the tournament itself and the people they met. The amount of work and effort that was put into creating these experiences made a real impact on the lives of Hyundai’s guests and did not go unnoticed. It all ended too quickly, but in four years’ time there is going to be another World Cup, which will bring new challenges, new activations and new emotions.

As a Russian, my personal involvement in the 2018 FIFA World Cup had an even greater significance. Being able to deliver a sponsorship for a FIFA partner in my home town was an opportunity to not only develop my professional skills, but also an opportunity to give back to the city where I was raised and showcase my home town to the client and the guests in the best way possible.

For me, personally, it was a long journey from the pre-bidding stage when the idea of hosting the World Cup in Russia was just being developed, to working within the LOC, then later on helping Visa to activate its sponsorship during the 2017 FIFA Confederations Cup, and finally being part of our work in Russia with iLUKA and Hyundai.

I am proud of what my country was able to achieve in these years in terms of developing infrastructure, working with global brands, hosting guests and putting football at the heart of celebrations around the world for more than a month.

It goes without saying that the performance of the Russian team played a significant role in the overall feel and aftertaste of the tournament (at least for Russian people) and now the hope that Russian football team can win trophies is alive again. Russian football academies have been experiencing a significant increase of interest and larger than usual number of children enrolling into football schools. Even though there were concerns that new stadiums would remain empty after the World Cup had gone, attendance at these stadiums is increasing even for the second round of league matches.

There are positive trends occurring at the moment and hopefully this momentum will carry on. With that, I'd like to offer a big thank you to CSM and iLUKA for the great opportunity to be a part of the FIFA World Cup in my home country.