After a few days in St Petersburg I've been touched by enough Russian men to last a lifetime.

The security process to enter each stadium involves a rigourous pat down by an unsmiling, but friendly, police officer.

It's not the cursory one you might expect in New Zealand; this is the real deal and if there was a 50 cent piece in your sock they would find it.

Behind him there is usually a bank of five colleagues, ready to step in when he gets tired.


This is serious business - and so it should be. The security, as one might expect, is pretty high. Given what has happened on the European continent over the last 12 months it's understandable, and actually quite a relief.

It's not an easy job but the Russians do it bloody well, to help protect the thousands of visiting fans, media and officials as well as the local residents.

On the day of the New Zealand vs Russia clash the process started at the subway station, as every passenger had to walk through a body scanner as they enter the building. Those with bags were pulled aside by security, with my backpack put into what resembled a large microwave oven. Clear.

Inside the metro itself there are personnel in security capsules at the bottom of each escalator, on the lookout for anything untoward and also making customer announcements.

Entering the stadium itself was another process. Another x-ray scanner, then a thoroughly professional, but absolutely meticulous frisk.

And my bag was put through another imaging machine, then searched by hand.

Each item in my backpack was examined; with phones and laptops switched on to prove they were indeed electronic items.

It was thorough, but not overbearing, and done with a smile.

It even extended to the media bus. As our vehicle entered the stadium compound, one security officer checked under the vehicle while another hopped on the bus to scan the pass of each and every journalist on board.

The security personnel - a combination of army and police - outside the stadium also make for quite a sight. Over their uniform they are covered head to toe in thick reinforced plastic - think of a cross between the `Michelin Man' and an NHL Ice Hockey goal keeper - that would be able to withstand the severest blow.

By Michael Burgess in St Petersburg

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