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Saturday, 14 July 2018

PUTIN BASKS IN THE GLORY OF A WORLD CUP THAT HAS BROKEN STEREOTYPES AND RIPPED UP THE RULEBOOK

Russia supporter during the 2018 FIFA World Cup Russia group A match between Russia and Egypt on June 19, 2018 at Saint Petersburg Stadium in Saint Petersburg, Russia.
Before the kickoff of the Russian World Cup almost a month ago, soccer fans were told to attend the tournament at their own risk, Russia was portrayed as a malignant player on the world stage and Putin was something of a persona non grata.

Several weeks into the tournament and international soccer stars, pundits and the public who have been to Russia have largely had nothing but positive comments and experiences.

The tournament saw the rule book of soccer tradition ripped up too, with some of the favorites — Brazil, Germany, Spain and Argentina — being knocked out early on which made for compelling viewing.

The home side Russia, which was ranked in 70th place in FIFA’s table (the lowest-ranked side in the tournament) beforehand, saw unexpected success in the cup which has delighted fans. The national team was knocked out last Saturday on penalties against Croatia but just reaching the quarter-finals was a feat in itself in a tournament that has proved to be exciting, memorable and unpredictable.

“I think this World Cup will go down in history as one of the nicest and most successful championships,” Alexander Rahr, a Russia affairs analyst at the German-Russian Forum, told CNBC Thursday. “People were afraid of Russian hooligans but the Russian people have showed they are good hosts.”

“I hope it will give Russia a boost — the people there have never experience so many people visiting. There were thousands of visitors within a month, not just in Moscow and St. Petersburg but in the provinces too — people visiting who would have never travelled to Russia before,” he said.


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