The championship has woken the city from a long sleep, as though a prince kisses a princess, breaking an evil spell. Let’s take a look at the unconventional and perhaps a bit unobtrusive changes Moscow has undergone. Here is our take on the World Cup 2018 Recap.
Stanislav Cherchesov, Russia’s head coach, salutes to one one of the team’s leading forwards Artem Dzyuba
July 1st, 2018 – a paramount moment in Russia’s modern history. Having stun Spain, the country reached the quarter-finals which refreshed Russia’s patriotism and reinforced the sense of national belonging.
It seemed the euphoria would vanish after Russia’s loss to Croatia. Instead, it reinforced the nation’s proud to even a higher extent.
The crowd reacts to Russia’s victory over Spain
The crowd raved, singing national folklore songs and reverently worshipping Akinfeev, Russia’s penalty hero. The cars were beeping and national flags were leaning out of their windows, gloriously waving; people would stop just in the middle of the road and exit vehicles to join the jubilating procession; they would come running to each other and give high fives or hug or even kiss sometimes. Indeed, after having been so much haggard, Moscow finally can feel proud, get a well-deserved relief and eventually smile, breaking the stereotypes and prejudices about its mentality.
Russians rave on the streets after the historic win
Moscow became an English-friendly city, but you still think they are villains from a Hollywood movie
Slowly, yet steadily, Moscow is becoming an English-friendly city. Impromptu menu boards and signs in English sprang up all across the city, advertising Russian craft beer and giving you directions. Taxi drivers along with police have learned some English too, helping foreign fans get around the city and avoid troubles. Yet their accent, the infamous rolling “R” and harsh “H” still make an impression you speak to a badass Russian villain from a Hollywood movie. But there is something romantic in it, isn’t there?
Apart from getting tourists soaked through, 2018 World Cup sparked Russia’s curiosity to learn more about the people and the world behind the borders. Moscow, indeed, was like a giant cruise ship, inviting all of the countries aboard and making Diogenes’ cosmopolitan dreams come true.
But can you be friends with Russians?
The infamous Russian hooligans in Marseille have generously contributed to the image of Russian fans. It is true that they are rather emotional in Russia and sometimes become even savage, expressing the love and loyalty to their football club.
The 2018 World Cup, though, attached a different label to them. They could have been lectured on friendliness and tolerance altogether or tried to “keep their enemies close”, but either way, Moscow stadiums, as well as bars and fan zones, have never witnessed such peaceful and welcoming vibes, coming from alleged vandals.
So a Russian hooligan, an FC Spartak fan, becomes friends with a Malaysian UFC fighter at the central fan zone on Sparrow Hills, an Uruguayan group enjoys wine and khachapuri with some Georgians on Nikolskaia St. and even hopeless Moscow tramps no longer feel lonely here, as they share some booze with real Englishmen, telling their life-story and congratulating them on their beating of Colombia and Sweden.
Russian hooligan hugs and takes selfies with Malaysian UFC fighter
Russian girls could make Moscow’s population more diverse.
One can hardly doubt their beauty. During the World Cup 2018, though, it became almost unbearable. It might not seem the most paramount point of the World Cup 2018 recap, yet the Russian girls were a true hype during the championship. They provoked hunger and made men’s stomachs growl, they would get their eyes as easy as a pie would make a dieting person drool.
I dared to ask some Moscow girls, what it was so special about foreigners and here is what they said:
“They are not gloomy, always smile, and sometimes they are just more easy-going” – said Katia, a 26-year-old manager
“Russian men always try to show they are hard to get. That’s not the issue with foreigners!” – a 35-year-old teacher Anastasia claimed.
“Well, [Russian] guys do not always take a proper care of themselves…and, you know, sometimes it is simply unbearable” – Olga, a 21-year-old student admitted.
Fanciness and gimmicks were everywhere, while the Russian language was vanishing
It is not only the people who started to speak English. Strolling near Tverskaya St., I stopped near the pedestrian cross to wait for the traffic lights to turn green when out of the blue I heard: “You may now cross Strastnoy Boulevard” – said someone with a gentle soft voice”. I started to look around to find the one who so kindly gave me the permission, but no one was around.
Meanwhile, the traffic lights turned red again and 90 seconds later, I heard the same voice again and I was struck to find the source of the sound. It was the traffic lights to speak to me.
The whole city was overloaded with fanciness and gimmicks, showing off what it’s capable of, with Muscovites sharing the burden of never-ending jostling in the exultant crowds. You could barely hear the Russian language on the Red Square, with only occasional cursing cropping all of a sudden. But that’s always been a sure way to differentiate between “us” and “them”.
The prices soared at the places where we didn’t expect them to
Nikolskaya St. became an unofficial fan zone during the World Cup 2018 and eateries and bars were rolling in money
4-letter words, unfortunately, found many additional grounds in Moscow. Quite expectedly, prices soared dramatically. I remember somewhat 3 months before the World Cup, we were betting with friends how much it would cost to have a beer. Bars didn’t change their prices. It is still around 5 bucks per jar. And everything seemed harmless, till we came to a place and managers requested a 300$ deposit just to sit at the table.
Simple things in Moscow are now harder to get
There can be more essential things than having a beer. We were making a video for Barelyinmoscow, when Nikita, our cameraman, all of sudden told me it was his tradition to eat the legendary Soviet ice cream in GUM Department Store whenever he passes it by. I just couldn’t dare to break this custom. So we went in and a vendor told us the ice cream cost 1.5$ instead of regular 0.75$. That was twice as much. For all our lives the price hadn’t changed, and having a 50 rouble banknote in your pocket was more than enough to make you happy. Our deepest inner feelings turned upside down. We felt like children, stripped off the right to have our dessert after a pile of vegetables parents on the plate.
“Well, it’s for obvious reasons I guess, “ I told Nikita, adding the lacking money.
Muscovites learned how to make every penny out of everything
A more curious and intelligent way to get tourists soaked though was entrepreneurship. Nearly everyone became a professional guide or opened a tourist agency, promising tourists to show the “unexplored world of real Moscow” or “to experience a true life of an ordinary Muscovite”.
One day, checking my Instagram feed, quite a surprising ad appeared that said to try out a new tourist website and experience a local life of a Muscovite. Having followed the link, the site offered me to pay 100$ to hire a guide that would show “the essence of the capital of Russia. And it is not the Red Square”. The next day, a similar add, that time on Facebook. With that said, you can hardly get the right directions from locals on the streets. There is a saying that a true Muscovite never knows whereabouts of the city he has lived in for all of the life.
The rush-hour in Moscow metro no longer exists
Because now, there is no such thing as “a better time” to use metro and a rush hour has become a rush day. Once on a Saturday, at 12 a.m. just an hour before Metro would close, I was clutched by Brazilians, singing some sort of a fan song. The same happened the next day, but at that time I was enjoying an Uruguayan party. Yet it wasn’t intimidating. In fact, it was completely the opposite, as for the first time in my life I felt the city was alive.
Brazillian fans raving in Moscow Metro
Probably, the Iron Curtain has finally fallen
To give a World Cup 2018 recap, this month-long event could become another reason not to hate Russia, despite all of the negative hype it has obtained. Russia and its people can now feel they are an important part of a global village that everyone has been talking about for such a long time, but that the country didn’t have an opportunity to experience itself. As the World Cup 2018 have shown, Russia still can play football, be civilized, friendly and have something to share with the rest of the world. The Iron Curtain has finally fallen and the hope remains that it will not roll back again.
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