Last Stop: The Luzhniki Stadium

Luzhniki Stadium

Situated along the Moskva River sits the final destination on this virtual tour: the Luzhniki Stadium. The life of this sports arena spans the eras of Soviet and post-Soviet, and is integral to describing the sports culture of either. Luzhniki was established in preparation of the 1980 Olympic Games, held at Moscow near the end of Soviet reign. The 1980s Games were noteworthy in that many nations of the world, led by the United States, chose to boycott them in protest of the Soviet Union’s invasion of Afghanistan; at home, the Games also presented themselves as a significant financial burden on the country and city, with many of the structures erected specifically for the Olympics being abandoned at their conclusion and the overall expenditure perhaps providing one more nail in the coffin for the crumbling nation. [1]

The interior of Luzhniki Stadium.

In a way, Luzhniki Stadium represents the last of Soviet Moscow – a remnant that was recycled into usage by the Russian Federation. It housed many a Soviet football match and continues to contain the same variety of Russian sport; like the Russian people, it overcame the political turbulence associated with the fall of the world power of the Soviet Union and persevered to retain its dignity in a new governmental order. In Russia, the shadow of communism still resides, but it is a nation much more open and aware of the world beyond than the Soviet Union ever was, and so the significance of sports culture has lessened as people are more privy to other means of entertainment[2].

The Luzhniki Stadium on the Moskva River at night.

Nonetheless, Russia is not without its capabilities; in 2018, it will host the World Cup and feature the Luzhniki Stadium as the venue for the finals[1], reminding the world that Muscovite sports culture is alive and formidable. From the glory of Soviet-era Olympics to the issues of 1980 Games, and from the disappointment regarding the 1958 World Cup to the hope offered by the 2018 one, the Luzhniki Stadium, like all of Moscow, has witnessed and been intimate with it all.