FIFA World Cup — New Impressions and New Opportunities
The author: Margalina Allenova
In Russia, people like foreigners. And football, too. Votaries of football, and active fans were waiting for the start of the Cup. For me, it was just an ordinary sports event. I wanted to avoid it as much as possible, as I am absolutely clueless about football, and I have fear of crowds. But I did not realize the scale of the World Cup at the time. It is simply impossible, by any stretch of the imagination, to stay away from it in Moscow!
I’m studying for a PhD at Russia’s most international university (the Peoples’ Friendship University of Russia, Institute for Law). On that day, the entrance to it was blocked by black armored vans. There were police cars with flashing lights nearby. Students lined up in the hall to take a picture with someone. It turned out that it was the leader of one of the World Cup participating countries. He came to greet his students, and to find out how they were getting on. A surprising gesture, I think.
Moscow: Bears don’t walk the streets
A World Cup fever began on the opening day and has not stopped until now. All the news feeds and social networks are highlighting the event. “Hurray! Goal!”, you can hear in the evenings from everywhere. Instagram is full of photos and videos from my favorite Moscow street, Nikolskaya. It appeared to be the main street of the World Cup 2018.
By contrast, in the daytime, Moscow was surprisingly quiet. During the first week I met only a few tourists. The guys I saw were very calm, and on their best behavior. I’ve noticed many additional indicating panels and directional signs on the metro. There are several information booths at the VDNKH metro station, and at the entrance to the park. Oktyabrskaya, Kurskaya, Novokuznetskaya — it’s quiet and no crowds anywhere. At first, I thought that many did not dare to come to Russia.
But of course this is not the case. Even if we really had bears walking in the streets, the desperate and brave football fans would not be scared of them. I just went to the wrong places.
Zaryadye Park was still not crowded with the overseas guests. Though, a record number of cruise boats were passing under the glass bridge; usually they go there less often. National songs were heard from every boat. By ear, I could distinguish between Brazilians, Mexicans and Italians. The people on the bridge sang along with them, and cheerfully waved back.
Football spirit is everywhere. Footballs are floating in the famous fountain of GUM department store, and two referees are walking around and brandishing the red card to those who dared to catch the ball out of water to take a picture with it. Live birches, like Christmas trees, are decorated with cardboard toy balls there.
For a whole month, Moscow is on holiday, having a lot of fun. Because having fun is the only thing in Russia they like more than football. Foosball tables were installed at the Central Children’s Store (CCS). Both adults and children enjoy playing foosball. You can even register your team, and also qualify for the final by the 15th of July.
And of course, you can listen to street musicians playing live music suited to every taste. As far as I can see, most of all, the foreigners enjoyed engaging Russian girls for a slow dance, and singing energetic songs screaming: “Russia! Hurray!”.
And what I enjoyed most is the chants of Turkish fans, with drums beating, the loudest and most rhythmic. Probably, it was a well-known and record loud “Charge” of the Besiktas fans. I would have never learned about this and other interesting facts, if the FIFA World Cup was held in another country. And now I understand the votaries of football and other spectacular team games. It’s excitement, adrenaline and very bright emotions.
Fair play is in the air
After the match, regardless of its result, all become one big and friendly community again. They all are just tourists, just fans who came to have a good time and cheer for their team. The sad Argentines, after their team lost to Croatia 3:0, were trying on Mexican sombreros, the most popular accessory this week, in an attempt to join the fun.
Surprisingly, everyone understood each other, without knowing a foreign language. The most universal language works instinctively, the language of the body and emotions, the message of thoughts through expressive looks and smiles. Unfortunately, we cannot tell or learn in this language everything we want.
This week, for example, I helped a German guy get to the Babushkinskaya metro station. Although I guess, it was harder for him to pronounce the name of the station than to read the map. At Moscow Kazansky railway station we saw into a train to Saransk the people in bright yellow T-shirts. As it turned out later, they were Colombians who hurried to the match with Japan. On the same day, the Spaniards were unsuccessfully looking for “Kazan” (in Russian it means a large cooking pot), being for some reason all the time sent to souvenir shops instead of the Kazan city.
Such moments make us feel the acute need for a high level of English and for the absence of a language barrier. With the help of Lingoda, I prepared for my PhD Candidacy exam, but my language is still far from ideal. These days I found a strong motivation to bring it closer to perfection.
World Cup: Ordered and relexed
The way the World Cup was organized was a positive surprise. We expected chaos, or unnecessary personal inspections. But in my view, everything is done in moderation. There are fences and metal frames where necessary, and in some places the police officers keep the peace. Though, it seems, they are more likely to have fun, dancing, as there is an air of friendship in the streets. Even in the crowd at Nikolskaya I felt quite comfortable and safe. During this time, I have never seen conflicts. Many parents took their young children with them.
I think, this World Cup will be remembered by everyone who now lives in or visited the host cities. During the remaining weeks, I’ll definitely take a few more walks around the city. I’d like to suggest that the guests should pass along my route, to Zaryadye Park, Red Square, and further to Nikolskaya, and the CCS observation deck. Towards evening you may visit Kuznetsky Most and Bolshaya Dmitrovka Street to listen to music and dance. And in the hot part of the day, take a cruise boat, and remember that you should arrive to the Vorobyovy Gory fan zone no later than three hours before the match — otherwise you will be denied entry.
I’m still not interested in football as a game, but the World Cup gave me vivid emotions. Such events bring people together and erase the boundaries. It would be awesome if such large-scale events took place in Russia more often. Well, not only in Moscow, but throughout the country. It would be great if foreigners have an increased interest in Russia and the Russian language. If Lingoda launches such a course, I would be glad to help everyone wishing to master the great and mighty language.