The Myanmar Times - Weekend - - Sport -

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

Ac­tors per­form dur­ing the open­ing cer­e­mony prior to the FIFA World Cup 2018 group A pre­lim­i­nary round soc­cer match be­tween Rus­sia and Saudi Ara­bia in Moscow, Rus­sia yes­ter­day. Photos: EPA

Mex­i­can soc­cer fans pose for a photo on the eve of the opener of the 2018 soc­cer World Cup near Red Square in Moscow, Rus­sia on Wed­nes­day. Photo: AP

In this June 2, 2018, file photo, the roof of Mercedes-benz Sta­dium is open as At­lanta United for­ward Josef Martinez cel­e­brates his goal against Philadel­phia Union on a penalty kick while Miguel Alm­iron jumps on his back in an MLS soc­cer match in At­lanta.

Eng­land striker Harry Kane (C) and goal­keeper Jor­dan Pick­ford (R) sign au­to­graphs fol­low­ing their team’s train­ing ses­sion in Ze­lenogorsk, Rus­sia, 13 June 2018. Eng­land pre­pares for the FIFA World Cup 2018 tak­ing place in Rus­sia from 14 June to 15 July 201

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