Wednesday, June 20, 2018

Besides the Russian Victory: Five Other Stories from the World Cup

Paul Goble

            Staunton, June 20 – As a result of its second victory, the Russian team has advanced to the second round of the World Cup, the first time it has done so since 1986, an occasion for congratulations and massive celebration by Russians across the country, developments that are eclipsing almost everything else.

            But today, there were five reports of other developments at the World Cup competition in Russia that deserve mention as well because of the light they cast on Russia today.  They include:

·         Chechens Say They were Told Not to Leave Republic During World Cup. Apparently fearing that Chechens might constitute a security threat, Russian officials and their Chechen agents reportedly have told ordinary Chechens that they must not leave their native republic while the World Cup is going on (

·         Five Russians Crossed into Finland and Sought Asylum Using World Cup IDs as Travel Documents. A group of Russians successfully left their country, entered Finland and sought political asylum there using only World Cup IDs as their travel documents (

·         Empty Seats Prompt Officials to Give Out Free Tickets. Stung by televised pictures of empty stands, officials in some of the venue cities have told media outlets that they will happily give out free tickets to those who want to attend future matches, an indication that enthusiasm for the competition may not be quite as high as some suggest ( and

·         French Fans Refuse Russian Women’s Advances – ‘We Came to Watch Football.’ Russian women have been warned about predatory foreigners, but the problem may be in the opposition direction, with foreigners upset about being preyed upon by Russian women interested in them perhaps as tickets out of the country. French fans have now complained: “We came here to watch football,” they say; not for anything else (

·         Russian Sports Commentator who Mentioned Navalny is a Commentator No More.  The former trainer of the Russian team who has been acting as a color commentator made the mistake of mentioning Aleksey Navalny’s name on air. He has been dismissed from this job as a result (

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