FIFA World Cup

2018 FIFA WC: Less than a week to go, is Russia prepared?

Anilava Chatterjee, Moscow:
 Do you have any hoardings left of “Bishwa Banglay Bishwacup” at your club, bus stand or at puja pandals in Kolkata? Still don’t understand why I am talking about the FIFA U17 World Cup which was held in India last year? The 2018 FIFA World Cup is just seven days away but surprisingly the capital city of Russia doesn’t have any flavor of the most awaited football carnival.

At the immigration counters of the Airport one can see a few clippings of goals on televisions. No one had any courage of watching that. Though there is a commercial regarding the World Cup in a giant screen outside the airport, but nothing much than that. After passing through heavy traffic when we reached the main city surprisingly there was no sign that a football fan can feel the heat of the World Cup which is just seven days away. There has been raining in Moscow for a few days, but today the weather was quite clear. Though there was no rain today but it was very cold outside, but if you think as a football lover one can surely say, the craze for football among the Russians are cooler than the weather.

Other than this everything is quite natural in Moscow. In the subway of the Metro someone is signing a song, two persons playing rhythmic instruments at some place of the street, passionate musicians, tourists hanging out outside Kremlin. Everything is there except football.

The journalists from various countries have started to come to Russia; most of them have the interest to know about the local people. But where are the football-crazy Russian supporters? After Russia knocked out of the 2010 World Cup, the fans gathered at the historic Red Square and it was just turned into a war zone. Today shockingly today I didn’t see the face any football fan there. The Red Square has seen both rise and fall of communism, the people of Russia had gathered and shouted for their rights may time. As this is a renowned place, FIFA had built the World Cup countdown clock here. It was inaugurated by legendary Lothar Matthäus, Gianluca Zambrotta, Fernando Hierro 1000 days before the start of the grand event.

One can see the clock is ticking and it’s showing that the World Cup is just seven days away, but there is no charm here regarding the grandest carnival of football. A few tourists are seen taking selfies at the Red Square but nothing more than that. At least the way Kolkata got decorated for the U17 World Cup last year, Moscow is not even close to that so far. So far, we are yet to see the color of football in the colorful Russia.

As I said though the World Cup is knocking at the door but host Russia is still sleeping. Another unfortunate thing is I didn’t see any respect here for legendary goalkeeper Lev Yashin as the local authority hasn’t maintained it's statue properly. At the Green Line Metro in Moscow, there is a separate station named Dinamo. After getting out of the station one can see a giant stadium. It is the home ground of FC Dynamo Moscow. The stadium is renovated ahead of the grand event. Though this stadium will not host any football matches but Russia is looking forward to be fully prepared. Dynamo Club is just there beside the stadium and the government is renovating it as well. The statue of Lev Yashin is there at the corner of the garden.

The whole world knows this statue. This impeccable test is also known. Wearing a black hat and a black dress Yashin used to fly from one side to another side of the goalpost. In Santos, Brazil, where Pele spent most of his life, the local administration has placed a hanging statue of football emperor at the heart of the city. On the other hand, Dynamo Club has also put a hanging statue of their favorite Black Spider. Yasin played 326 games for Dynamo 326, saved over 150 'penalties throughout his life. Beside that, he had 270 clean sheets as well. But leaving all these statistics aside, he is a football legend for the world. Russia could have hosted the World Cup a bit better with Lev Yashin; but unfortunately, I found the legend in a manner which is painful for any football lover.

It’s quite difficult to say how the fans will find the legendary Lev Yashin after this renovation process. But as of now it is sad that we found the legend in this manner.

Even before the start of the FIFA World Cup 2018, FIFA starts ringing the alarm bells of the 2019 Women's World Cup in France. Just about a year before the start of that event, FIFA brings ETTIE in front of us for the first time in Moscow today. The Majnaya Square of Moscow, where FIFA has installed the countdown clock of the 2018 World Cup, we found ETTIE today while walking. Last month FIFA revealed ETTIE, a young chicken.

The mascot is claimed to be the daughter of Footix, the mascot of the France 1998 World Cup.

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