The 2018 World Cup is only two months away from kicking off, and host country Russia is gearing up to welcome the world and its best players.
The world's largest nation has earmarked 11 host cities for FIFA's international tournament, and football fans across the globe will want to know how welcome they'll be given the controversies and social issues over there.
Thanks to a poll conducted by BonusCodeBets, supporters heading out East for the competition will now know that Sochi is expected to be the most welcoming city with regards to foreign fans and LGBT groups.
|Host City||Foreign Fan Friendliness||LGBT Friendliness|
Exactly 82% of Russians are thought to be ready to open their arms to fans from the other 31 nations, while 77% are happy to allow people from an LGBT background to take in the attractions and culture in their city.
Kazan and St. Petersburg are ranked at second and third as the most friendliest cities with foreign fan friendliness of 79% and 73% respectively, while their welcoming of LGBT individuals stands at 72% and 74%.
The least welcoming host city will be Kaliningrad, with the Baltic Coast situated district boasting only a 68% foreign fan friendliness rating and a 64% welcoming rating with regards to LGBT individuals.
Top ten countries to apply for World Cup 2018 tickets (after hosts Russia):— Richard Conway (@richard_conway) April 17, 2018
Of more importance to English fans in particular, though, is how they will be received when they head to Russia to support the Three Lions.
With the UK's relationship with Russia at an all-time low due to the alleged poisoning of former Soviet spy Sergei Skripal in Salisbury in March, England's traveling contingent have been warned about possible trouble from Russian ultras.
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Of the 11 host cities, southwestern city Samara is thought to be the most likely to 'welcome' England fans to Russia, but only 25% of those polled agreed that such a welcome would be friendly in nature.
England will not play any of their group games in that region, however, and supporters may want to think twice about watching their team in action in the cities that will host their games.
Indeed, with Kaliningrad, Volgograd and Nizhny Novgorod the venues for the Three Lions' group matches, Volgograd will be the friendliest (24%) while Novgorod could be the most likely source of clashes with only 13% of Russians thought to be open to English fans descending on their home town.