To many, the World Cup's return simply represents a few weeks of patriotism and something decent to actually watch on the TV. But in Russia, the tournament sparks the hope of change - a means by which the country can be reinvigorated by the spectacle of hosting the world's most prestigious sporting event.


The brilliant work by the guys over at Goal Click has handed an insight into Russian footballing culture behind the mask of the World Cup. Sending disposable cameras out to Russian photographers, CEO and co-founder Matthew Barrett wanted to give an "honest and unfiltered look at the amazing diversity of Russian society and its culture through football", as part of a special project named Goal Click: Russia. 

FK Awangard Kursk v FK Tosno - Russian Cup Final

Seven photographers over 13 different locations snapped glimpses of what footballing life is like over in the host nation's home; showing exactly how much the next few weeks means to the country.


The locations of England's group stage matches against Tunisia, Panama and Belgium were all covered in Goal Click: Russia...


Volgograd


Alexander Grivin explored the city where England will face their first test against Tunisia, and behind the beauty of the Volgograd Arena hides the troubles that a once thriving footballing area now faces.


"For many years football was at a very high level in Volgograd," Grivin begins. "But after years of great performance in Russian and international arenas, football started to decay here.

Volgograd Arena

"Modern Volgograd, much to my regret, is not one of the leading cities of Russia. However participation in the World Cup has touched upon many spheres of its life and allowed the city to move forward on some problematic issues."

Volgograd


Nizhny Novgorod


Artem Sirotkin covered the city of Nizhny, shooting the stark opposites of ​championship and amateur football. His native Semenov (70km from Nizhny) suffers from the economic motivation behind the game.


Sirotkin said: "Football is managed by people who do not understand it, they do not know how to manage it. For several years, several football clubs have been destroyed in the city. For them it's a way to make money, and probably this is an opportunity for corruption."

Novgorod
Novgorod


Kaliningrad


England's final group game arrives against Belgium in Kaliningrad, a city thriving from the World Cup from the outside, but noticeably suffering from within. Sergey Novikov looked to highlight this struggle in his work.


"I documented public spaces that were significantly changed due to the 2018 World Cup - surfaces of our urban landscape, marked with visible objects that appeared to show the city’s involvement in the mass spectacle.

Kaliningrad

"Despite many improvements to urban infrastructure prior to World Cup with airports, main roads and stadiums, there is still a very visible wish to cover all the ugly, destroyed and abandoned buildings under false fabric facades. 


"My photos are not meant to criticise authorities for the temporary transformation of the environment, but just to reveal these changes."

Kaliningrad

Much like their tournament hosting predecessors Brazil, Russia will attempt to hide the decay and struggle away from the media limelight during the World Cup. But with the arrival of unprecedented tourism, comes the influx of revenue. Here's to hoping that the nation's income over the next month can go some way towards resolving the underlying problems.


Check out the rest of Goal Click's incredible work right ​here.