French fans get new angle on Russia at WCup
July 11 2018 10:37 PM
France’s supporters celebrate France’s 1-0 victory over Belgium in the World Cup semi-final outside the Saint Petersburg Stadium. (AFP)


France, like many other countries, has sent thousands of ambassadors to Russia to root for the national team at the World Cup.
Some fans have talked to Sputnik news agency and shared their impressions of the country, recommending that anyone interested should see for themselves.
An overwhelming majority of the France fans who talked to Sputnik in Moscow’s streets were making their first-ever visit to the capital. The World Cup gave them a unique opportunity to see things from another perspective.
“We were told that Russians would be fighting with fans all the time. It turned out that this was not true! They are normal! No, this is a good country,” said Loic who came to Russia from Nice.
“We hosted Euro 2016, but the atmosphere here is much better than in France,” noted a Frenchman. He pointed to a big number of South American fans, regretting that there were only “a few French people.”
France fans are in the minority at the ongoing World Cup. According to the French Football Federation and FIFA, Russia welcomed from 17,000 to 20,000 fans from France. Those who made it to the host country were lavish with compliments.
“We’re impressed. This is a wonderful city, very beautiful, very clean. Russians are very nice,” Margerie and Alain from Lille said.
When asked about what was her biggest impression in Russia, Margerie responded, after a pause, “Cleanliness. It is much cleaner here than in France. The organisation is another thing, everything is awesome.”
Maxime from the town of Huez, Isere department praised Moscow’s architecture. “There are many buildings here that were constructed in the past hundred years. There are more historic, older buildings in France,” Maxime said.
“Those that were built in the Soviet era represent a culture that is closer to us than the French culture in general.”
Maxime has already visited Red Square, had a tour of several churches and landmarks, and has been to a market.
“The atmosphere (here) will show Russia from another side, not the one displayed in the mass media. The media only talk politics, but when you come to Russia, you see the Russian people and everything else, and this is a big pleasure,” Maxime said.
He also gave a thumbs-up to the security during the World Cup. “You should come and see Russia, see other cultures, and form your own opinion,” he believes.

FIFA’s Samoura says Russia sets bar high for Qatar 2022
FIFA Secretary General Fatma Samoura said yesterday that Russia’s staging of the soccer World Cup had set the bar high for Qatar, the tournament’s next hosts in 2022.
“I feel for Qatar, because (Russia) has set the bar very, very high,” Samoura, referring to the next World Cup in four years’ time, said at a meeting with Valentina Matviyenko, speaker of the upper house of Russia’s parliament.
Samoura asked Matviyenko to convey to Russian President Vladimir Putin FIFA’s “profound appreciation for everything that he has done to make it possible for the world to watch the beautiful game.”
“I’d like to express to Russia the dear, heartfelt thanks of FIFA,” Samoura said. The tournament has left visitors with good memories, Samoura said, adding that she thought the doping level has been at record lows.
Russia is hosting the tournament for the first time, in 12 stadiums spread across 11 cities including Moscow, St Petersburg and Sochi.
France will take on either Croatia or England in the final at Moscow’s Luzhniki stadium on Sunday. (Reuters)

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