WORLD CUP DAILY
THE MYANMAR TIMES 4 - PAGE SPEC I A L JUNE 15, 2018
After a lawmaker caused a backlash on social media by advising Russian women against getting involved with foreign soccer fans, one of her colleagues is urging love and procreation during the tournament. “The more love stories we have connected to the world championship, the more people from different countries fall in love, the more children are born, the better,” state news agency Tass quoted parliament member Mikhail Degtyaryov as telling reporters Thursday.
Degtyaryov appeared to be doing damage control after lawmaker Tamara Pletnyova warned Russian women Wednesday to think twice before entering into casual relationships with foreign tourists because they may end up rearing their children alone. Pletnyova, who heads a parliamentary committee on children and families, also suggested that Russian women should marry local men and said that children born from mixed-race marriages are unhappy.
The comments prompted criticism on social media, with some saying that Pletnyova’s views were racist and archaic.
Degtyaryov, who heads a parliamentary committee overseeing sports, promoted a totally opposite view Thursday.
“Many years from now these children will remember that their parents’ love story began during the World Cup in Russia in 2018,” Degtyaryov said, according to Tass. “I hope to God that there would be more love stories, more children, more mixed unions.”
“We welcome fans from all countries, skin colors, all religions, all genders and all (sexual) orientations,” Degtyaryov added. The Kremlin weighed in, reluctantly, on the controversy. Asked about Pletnyova’s comments, President Vladimir Putin’s spokesman, Dmitry Peskov, told reporters Thursday that the Kremlin has nothing to do with the matter.
“As for our Russian women, they will make their own judgment,” Peskov said. “They are the best women in the world.”
Peskov noted that spectators attending matches receive special World Cup identification cards that have the phrase “Say no to racism” written on them.
“This is probably the best way to characterize the atmosphere of this holiday and Russia’s approach to it,” Peskov added. – AP
HOW bad is Russia’s national soccer team? Even the ruthless leader of Chechnya couldn’t coach it to victory — or so goes a satirical song buzzing around Russian social networks ahead of the World Cup.
The Chechen strongman shot back — with a goofy patriotic rap.
Instead of moping about sanctions, political repression and doping suspicions, Russians are turning to parody as they ready to host the world’s mostwatched sporting event.
The self-deprecating mockery is helping defuse domestic tensions around Russia’s World Cup, which kicks off Thursday in Moscow with much at stake for President Vladimir Putin and his proud nation.
Video clips circulating online caricature the players on Russia’s bottomranked team as aging, narcissistic and injury-prone.
The favored target is mustachioed Russian coach Stanislav Cherchesov. TV star and comedian Ivan Urgant is appealing to Russians to post images of themselves wearing mustaches as a show of support, and his tongue-incheek hashtag “Mustaches of Hope” became a quick hit.
Popular singer Semyon Slepakov has a more radical idea: Replace the coach with Chechen President Ramzan Kadyrov.
“Ramzan, Ramzan, Ramzan, tough like parmesan,” sings Slepakov in a video released this week.
He imagines what would happen if Putin ordered Kadyrov to take over the team. Channeling Kadyrov, the singer threatens the players: “Don’t forget, you only have one life.”
Yet even this imagined Kadyrov — whose security forces stifle dissent and enforce strict Islamic rules in Chechnya, and whose rule is stained by reports of torture and killings — is overwhelmed by the coaching task.
“For the first time in my life, I give up,” sings Slepakov’s Kadyrov, pledging to go back to Chechnya where problems are easier to solve.
The real Kadryov took the clip in stride — though bristled at being compared to cheese.
On Russian social network Vkontakte, he responded with a rap-like verse ending “brother, I tell you, I support my Russia all the way!”
The real coach said he hasn’t heard the song and doesn’t have time anyway. “I’m concentrating on work,” he told reporters. Criticism “is a natural occurrence in today’s world. You have to take it the right way.”
Players acknowledge the barbs can hurt. Forward Artyom Dzyuba said the team resents criticism heaped on it by Russian media.
The parodies reflect a deep-seated hope among many Russians that the World Cup is a success — and a fear that something could go wrong.
Russia is on the defensive on many fronts as the tournament begins. The national team is on a losing streak so bad that few expect it to even make it past the first round. – AP
ATLANTA’S burgeoning soccer scene was featured in North America’s successful bid for 2026 World Cup.
Mercedes-benz Stadium was shown off in the videos the North American bid officials played for FIFA voters Wednesday in Russia. The images were all shiny, new and impressive — from the stadium’s retractable roof and huge oval video board to the all-important shots of sellout crowds for MLS Atlanta United.
The video evidence helped sway FIFA to overwhelmingly approve the bid from the United States, Mexico and Canada. The bid suggested Atlanta and Dallas as host sites for 2026 semifinals, and Atlanta United season ticket-holder Ken Harper can’t wait.
“Based on the world-wide interest in the World Cup, I think it has the potential to have the same impact the Olympics did in ‘96 on our city,” Harper said Wednesday. “I think it’s fantastic.”
In its second season, Atlanta United already has set three MLS single-game attendance records, most recently 72,035 for a March 11 win over DC United. The Atlanta home average of 48,200 for the 2017 season also set a record.
“You have one of the best stadiums in the world full of passionate soccer fans,” Harper said.
The World Cup will return to the US for the first time since 1994. It was an important win, especially with the US left out of the 2018 World Cup field in Russia.
Mexico President Enrique Pena Nieto expressed pride his nation will be the first to host three World Cups, following 1970 and 1986.
Pena Nieto said FIFA’S decision is a vote of confidence in Mexico and added “it is not only our people and our families, our companies and our business people, soccer also knows that Canada, the United States and Mexico are deeply united.”
Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau used Twitter to offer congratulations “to everyone who worked hard on this bid — it’s going to be a great tournament!” Celebratory reactions on social media came from all quarters. Landon Donovan, the MLS all-time scoring leader, expressed excitement — and impatience — on his Twitter account.
“Just woke up to the news that the 2026 World Cup is coming to North America!!!!!!!! Congrats to everyone who put in the tireless work to make it happen. How are we supposed to wait 8 more years?” Donovan said.
US defender Matt Besler said the World Cup will be “a great opportunity to showcase what our region has to offer and it’s a great opportunity to create history. It’s an opportunity for generations to share memories and to create memories, and years from now we’re going to look back on this time and have great memories about that.”
MLS Commissioner Don Garber described the winning bid as “a testament to how our three nations came together for an unprecedented united bid. It’s a monumental step in our collective vision to further advance the game of soccer here and to do what we can to help grow the game around the world.” – AP