FIFA World Cup 2018: Russia hit the streets to celebrate win

The Moscow city centre became a party zone after Russia’s 3-1 win against Egypt in the FIFA World Cup.

football Updated: Jun 20, 2018 20:30 IST
Bhargab Sarmah
Bhargab Sarmah
Hindustan Times, Moscow
FIFA World Cup 2018,FIFA World Cup,2018 FIFA World Cup
Fans celebrate on the streets after Russia beat Egypt in the FIFA World Cup 2018 on Tuesday.(Reuters)

Even if you are avowedly anti-football but forced to be in Moscow now, you would know whether Russia won or not if you tried hailing a taxi after the hosts play in this World Cup. The fares simply surge north.

As it did on Tuesday night after Russia beat Egypt 3-1. Roads out of the city centre were clogged faster than you could say Denis Cherysev or Artem Dzyuba --- whose goals after a self-goal from Ahmed Fathy fetched the win ---- within minutes of the final whistle in St Petersburg.

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The victory almost assured Russia of a pre-quarter finals berth and, for a country that had all but given up hope on the team, this seemed like a mid-summer night’s dream. And everyone in Moscow wanted to be a part of it.

From the Tverskaya Street to the Tretyakov Gallery, through the iconic Bolshoi Theatre, there was hardly a metre of space as fans poured in, many of them in cars.

This meant fewer taxis out of the place and a massive spike in charges by those offering their services.

Minutes after the win, loud, coordinated chants of ‘Russia! Russia!’ filled the air. Then, a pub in the corner of Tverskaya Street played the ‘Gosudárstvennyy Gimn Rossíyskoy Federátsii’ (the national anthem). What had seemed like a wild, exuberant crowd in drunken disarray till this point, suddenly showed the kind of cohesion their team had displayed on the pitch in their opening two games as thousands across the street joined in to sing along. This was Russia’s moment and it transformed many public spaces in the country into a party zone.

“We know we won’t win the World Cup but even reaching the next round is a great achievement for us. We are all proud of this team,” said Igor, who was watching the game at one of the pubs in the city centre here.

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The last time Russia celebrated a football result up to this scale, their national team had reached the semi-finals of the 2008 European Championship.

“Even in 2008, the celebrations weren’t as big as tonight. I think the fact that we are the hosts of the World Cup has also given greater importance to us reaching the next round,” said Russia fan Ksenia, a couple of hours after the game.

“I hope there are many more to come,” Russia coach Stanislav Cherchesov said when asked if it was the best day of his life. If his hopes come true and Russia make it beyond the round of 16, they will come out on the streets in greater numbers.

Such shared euphoria has led to a spike in birth rates in the past. A 2013 report in The Atlantic quotes the British Medical Journal as saying that a 16% surge in birth rates was attributed to Barcelona’s 2009 Champions League win. Hosting the 2006 World Cup led to an almost 30% increase in births in Germany and when Iceland stunned England last year, many celebrated by bringing a child into the world nine month later.

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This World Cup’s given Russia a reason to party. In time we will know whether it has also birthed a generation.

First Published: Jun 20, 2018 20:28 IST