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Our man in Russia: ‘Hooligans and racism will not get a chance’

Are they ready for it, the Russians? Organisational min or more. Sporty, that we see later, when to 17 pm (Belgian time) the host country the world cup opens against Saudi Arabia. With many doubts.

Brazilian supporters at the Red Square in Moscow © Belga Image

Moscow is in the spell of the world cup. That we noticed this morning, at the entrance of the Red Square, where supporters with each other to fraternize. You notice that even in the big hotels, where vans and drive away, and everyone eagerly looks forward to the start of the tournament.

Such a world cup by the FIFA tightly directed, and with the Russians no different. In 2010, they received the organization assigned, eight years later they may agree to extract. That hooligans or racism no chance, we can as well as from. Certainly not in and around the protected arenas twelve stadiums, nine built from the ground up.

Such a world cup also seems to be more and more feasible for a smaller country. That turned out to be yesterday, but the mood around that by 2026, for the first time with 48 teams. Morocco, for the fifth time candidate, lost again. Now no longer a limited exclusive committee agrees the allocation of the organization but all members, you get along with a lot more transparency, a greater impact of the geopolitics.

That Morocco is not on the support of the southern countries in Africa could rely on – besides South Africa also voted Namibia and Botswana for the candidacy of United 2026 – was expected. The country also was not supported by Benin, Guinea or cape Verde, came harder, gave Khalilou Fadiga this morning. Fadiga was one of the lobbyists for the African bid.

Remarkable: Morocco got a lot of support in Europe, of our country. And of France, and the Netherlands, countries with a large community from that country. But one was the European block does not. Russia agreed, for example, for the candidacy of the USA. For sporting purposes, or has Putin’s other priorities? Slovenia, the country of UEFA president Ceferin, abstained. Spain also. Who had other cats to whip, the Spanish back Rubiales left to his coach to dismiss. Brazil voted for Morocco. But well, with only 33 percent of the votes had Morocco as expected heavy travel. It will take time for Africa to a world cup.

Back to Moscow. Are they ready for it? Yesterday was already a little error, a bug in the information system explained the ticketing flat. But today, everything is in order, insured a friendly hostess. Just like on previous tournaments is language in and around the stadium no problem. Outside it still. Language and paperwork, travel to Russia seems to be a good exercise in patience and our hectic life to let go. Not the correct piece of paper leads to rondbellen. Long rondbellen. But once you have the fiat, it is going to be oiled and fast.

Lot is free for the fans who come to Russia. The public transport, the train. There should be some time for take. During the bid, there was talk of the introduction of fast trains – TGV if you will – between the cities of Moscow, Yekaterinburg, Kazan and other. Soon, in 2012, was that idea buried. There are now special supporterstreinen on the classic lines. Who from Moscow to Rostov will, must rely on a good 17 to 24 hours of travel. Ditto with the route between Volgograd and Sochi. But you can see the Russian landscape…

Also not is the cable car to the Fan Zone. There is, however, spacious and in a place in height, with view on Moscow. In the near of the university, for students, is also here in full exams, some concentration results. Lots of music, lots of atmosphere, and every evening till late match, it is not conducive to good points later.

The team there are sporty ready for it? You can hardly believe that Russia tonight for the eye of the world will want to go against Saudi Arabia, on paper, the second weakest country participating. The oefencampagne was not well, Russia won’t since October, but it was also Brazil party and Spain and Argentina and France. Then, in principle, four of the five candidate champions, although in the case of Spain, to wait and see how the country reacts to the antics of the back, which have been a coach, including the staff at the boulders he threw, not amused by the turn of Real.

That ‘bad’ voorbereidingsreeksje of the Russians must therefore be nuanced. Their defense makes them worry, especially the center that’s been heavily battered by injuries (sounds familiar), but in the tip should do the trick with Smolov and being infiltrated by Miranchuk. And the midfield runs with Golovin a footballer, of which CSKA is already acquiescent that he is after the world cup leaves to one of the big leagues. And who knows there still.

Appointment will be 17 hours.

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