Russian officials reportedly cracked down on prostitution in the country’s 11 World Cup host cities leading up to this week’s kickoff. But anti-trafficking activists warned relaxed visa rules to promote World Cup tourism would also encourage human trafficking. For the 10 days before and after the monthlong tournament, visitors are required only to have a game ticket to enter the country.
“The World Cup is a gift for traffickers,” Yulia Siluyanova of Alternativa, a Moscow-based anti-slavery organization, told The Moscow Times. Siluyanova said trafficking increased during last year’s FIFA Confederations Cup tournament in Russia, when the new visa system was piloted. Most of the women brought to Russia are from West Africa, post-Soviet states, and Southeast Asia, Siluyanova said, noting the World Cup could see the number of victims arriving soar.
Nigerian officials in May said they intercepted plans to traffic Nigerian women to Russia for the World Cup, according to Reuters. Last weekend, officials at Lagos’ main airport stopped 10 Nigerian children from flying to Russia with suspected traffickers. Five more potential victims, also children, were stopped from leaving because they only had one-way tickets to Russia. —K.C.