This Thursday, the World Cup opened in Russia with the opening match largely won by the host country, 5-0 against Saudi Arabia.
Russia could not have dreamed better: a 5-0 demonstration , against Saudi Arabia next to its crampons, in the opening match of “his” Mondial 2018 , Thursday in Moscow, under the eyes of Vladimir Putin, anxious to enjoy this tournament to restore the blurred image of his country in the West.
But there is no good World Cup without controversy: the popstar Robbie Williams, singer of the short opening ceremony, has sent a finger of honor to a camera, become viral on social networks.
Robbie William’s just absolutely nailed the World Cup opening ceremony 👏🏼
— SPORTbible (@sportbible) June 14, 2018
Everything had started in a more polished and political tone. “I congratulate you on the start of the biggest sports tournament in the world,” said Vladimir Putin, officially opening the World Cup in front of 80,000 spectators at the Luzhniki stadium. The Russian president was magnanimous at the first goal in shaking hands with Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, in an official forum that had not filled the world’s great.
Russia’s seduction operation began in the morning when Kremlin’s main opponent, Alexey Navalny, announced on Twitter: “I am back with you after a 30-day detention. I am terribly happy to be free. ” The Russian judiciary had condemned him for organizing a protest two days before Vladimir Putin’s inauguration for a fourth presidential term.
“We are not so bad”
And football? Russia, which had not won in 2018, got off to a good start with goals from Yuri Gazinsky (12th minute), Denis Cheryshev (43rd minute and 90th + 1), Artem Dzyuba (71st) and Alexander Golovin (90th). 4). “The Head of State has just called me to congratulate me,” savored the Russian coach Stanislav Cherchesov.
“Finally we are not so bad! “, Exulted the supporters of the” Sbornaya “at the final whistle, in the fan zone of Moscow.
Now, place at the first shock that the football world is waiting: Portugal-Spain, Friday in Sochi (8pm French Time). The cast is sublime with Cristiano Ronaldo, fivefold Golden Ball, and the scenario belies: Spain separated Wednesday from coach Julen Lopetegui who had the bad idea to announce Tuesday his departure for Real Madrid after the tournament…
It is Fernando Hierro, former defender emblematic of Roja, who takes the levers of a team considered before this psychodrama as a favorite.
Who else can claim to still raise the World Cup on July 15th? The names that come back in the mouth of the old stars are Brazil, Germany or France with its collection of small prodigies (Kylian Mbappé, Ousmane Dembélé, Thomas Lemar, etc.)
“For me, I see two favorites: Brazil and France. In France you have many young talents (…) Mbappé is such an incredible talent! (In) Brazil, they have Neymar, “AFP Andrei Arshavin, who led Russia in the semifinals of Euro-2008, told AFP.
All fans expect gestures from elsewhere Lionel Messi (Argentina), Luis Suarez (Uruguay) or Eden Hazard (Belgium). And pray that Mohamed Salah (Egypt), who broke the screen this season with Liverpool, can play after being injured in the final of the Champions League on May 26. His coach Hector Cuper is “very optimistic” for his presence Friday against Uruguay.
Spectators – and players in the game too – can not wait to see the video assisted referee (VAR) for the first time in World Cup history. For Russia, the issue is elsewhere. To ensure a world without a hitch, the country has put the package on infrastructure, disbursing a total of $ 13 billion.
Hooliganism, racism …
But the Russian authorities have also strengthened security measures that were already among the highest in the world. The first objective is to fight against the terrorist threat when the country is explicitly designated as a target by the Islamic State (IS) jihadist organization, even more so since its armed intervention in Syria.
Then there is the fear of hooliganism: at Euro 2016, hundreds of Russian fans violently attacked English fans in Marseille. The authorities have since reacted firmly and the most violent Russian supporters, closely followed by the police, have been asked to be discreet. Many have also assured that they will ensure this summer to stay away from the eleven host cities of the competition.
Remains a problem that has resurfaced with more virulence in recent months: racism. Especially in stadiums where several black players were victims of monkey screams. Finally, since 2010, when Russia won the organization of the World Cup 2018, the country of Vladimir Putin has been at the center of tensions and repeated diplomatic crises with the West.
But these scandals did not prevent the holding of the World Cup: only Great Britain and Iceland have chosen to boycott diplomatically, avoiding Russia to relive the traumatic episode of the Moscow Olympics, 1980, snubbed sportingly by more than 50 countries at the initiative of the United States.