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FIFA World Cup 2018: Moscow dresses up ahead of football extravaganza

Moscow is gearing up for the FIFA World Cup 2018 with surging hotel prices and Russian flags adoring major landmarks of the city.

football Updated: Jun 11, 2018 18:27 IST
Bhargab Sarmah
Bhargab Sarmah
Hindustan Times, Moscow
FIFA World Cup 2018,FIFA World Cup 2018 Russia,Meshchansky
The festivities are in full swing in Moscow ahead of the FIFA World Cup 2018.(REUTERS)

Frantic preparations were on just outside the Kremlin. A stand with seats painted in colours of the Russian flag faced a big stage seemingly built to hold a concert.

“This is not for the World Cup,” clarified a local guard on being asked. “Tuesday is Russia Day.”

The day commemorates the passing of a declaration on June 12, 1990, that began a series of constitutional reforms in the country.

While preparations are in full swing for the event, there is a very palpable presence of the FIFA World Cup outside the heavily-secured Kremlin in the forms of flags carried by fans who have arrived from different countries.

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Large billboards all over Moscow also tell you that the World Cup’s around the corner. Parts of the Sheremetyevo Airport have been decorated with photos accompanied by trivia on Russian football.

As more and more fans head into the country for the World Cup that begins on Thursday, prices in local hotels will head north.

“Right now the prices are okay. From 14th, they will shoot up,” said Svetlana who works as the manager of a three-star hotel in Moscow’s Meshchansky district. One-bedroom arrangements in the hotel will cost almost three times the normal rate from 14th, she said.

There is also a desire to learn English as the country gears up to host hundreds of thousands of fans over the next few weeks.

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A manager at a restaurant at the iconic Teatralnaya Square said that most local eateries and pubs have employed at least one person with basic English conversation skills.

In the local metro rail network, navigation boards now include English translations alongside Russian.

Local police officials too have learnt a few words in English to be able to speak to tourists, said a policeman outside the Prospekt Mira metro station.

One of the biggest attractions in the city over the next few days will be the FIFA Fan Fest that was launched on Sunday. As many as 25,000 fans visited the fest as per estimates of the local organizing committee.

There was heavy police presence in and around Universiteskiy Prospekt on Sunday in anticipation of fans at the fest. In subsequent days, that number is expected to rise considerably.

First Published: Jun 11, 2018 18:26 IST