The 2018 FIFA World Cup is starting any minute. This is the first time Russia is hosting the championship of the world's most popular sport. The games will be hosted by 11 Russian cities: Moscow, Kaliningrad, St. Petersburg, Nizhny Novgorod, Volgograd, Kazan, Samara, Saransk, Rostov-on-Don, Sochi and Ekaterinburg. The Russian capital will be the main venue of the tournament: the matches will be held at Luzhniki and Spartak stadiums. Luzhniki Stadium will host the first match as Russia take on Saudi Arabia on 14 June.
Sporting battles still ahead, a BelTA reporter went to Moscow to get the feel of the atmosphere, to see the recreation areas for tourists and fan zones, to talk to locals to learn what they expect of the national team.
You can feel that Moscow is gearing up for something big while approaching the Russian capital. Policemen stop all tourist buses to check if they are equipped with the GLONASS or Platon systems. Otherwise, they will not let them in the city.
I started getting familiar with the festive and sporting Moscow from Teatralnaya Square and Manezhnaya Square. While in the metro everything looked ordinary, things were different on the surface.
The first who I met and who agreed to pose (with parental permission) was a girl from Peru. And then it began. Fans from Venezuela, Brazil, Colombia, Argentina, Uruguay, Panama, Iran, China... It makes no sense to list all the countries. Though citizens of the South American continent were the most flamboyant and very vocal.
When I followed crowds of people into Nikolskaya Street, I could not believe that this is Moscow. Russian speech was nowhere to be heard, not a single word. The most active fans sang their national anthems and cheered.
The most unforgettable fan was a tiger man from Colombia
The most creative, flamboyant and loud fans are from Colombia. They are always willing to pose for photographers, locals and other tourists.
South America is a winner in many nominations. They sincerely believe that their team will win.
Here are tourists from Uruguay. Today they are walking the streets of Moscow, but tomorrow they will follow their team to Ekaterinburg and then to Rostov-on-Don and Samara.
This guy is from Argentina. He has come here by bicycle. It took him five years and about 80,000 kilometers to reach Russia. He lost his job six years ago and decided to take a break to find his way in life. At first he travelled across South America by car, then he switched to a bicycle. After he saw the world cup in Brazil in 2014, he fell in love with this sport and decided to see the next cup in Russia. His next destination is Qatar. He earns his living by selling photos made during his trip.
Moscow is fully decked out for the forthcoming event. Manezhnaya Square with its final countdown timer is packed with crowds of fans and locals who have come to enjoy this incredible atmosphere of common joy
Not far away are the main symbols of the cities that take part in the 2018 FIFA World Cup and the championship mascot Zabivaka. This place is very popular with tourists and locals.
For example, two friends, Vita and Sveta, said that their husbands are avid football fans. “We are proud that our country is hosting such a big sport forum,” they added.
Three boys also welcomed the fact that Russia got such a wonderful opportunity.
The next stop is the fan zone in Vorobyovy Gory (Sparrow Hills). The road to it is a long one, some 20 minutes on foot from the nearest metro station.
Unfortunately, the fan zone was closed. Disappointment could be read on the faces of many people who decided to take a stroll into this part of the city. The only thing that could ease the frustration was a splendid view of Moscow City and the main football arena, Luzhniki Stadium.
Luzhniki Stadium has recently got a major revamp. The stadium looks great. Of course, it was closed, too. Near it there were groups of volunteers getting last-minute instructions ahead of the 2018 FIFA World Cup start.
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