Russia 2018 World Cup Notebook - Day 29

Wednesday March 18 2020

Croatian kids show their football skills


Their fathers have been treating global audiences to awe-inspiring performances on the football pitch, and it has clearly rubbed off.

Children of Croatian football stars treated fans at Luzhniki Stadium to a 15-minute display of their football skills after Wednesday’s semi-final match between Croatia and England, which Croatia won 2-1.

After Croatian stars were done acknowledging cheers from fans in the stadium, some of the players collected their children from their wives on the stands and brought them inside the pitch to show their football skills, much to the joy of the watching fans.

What’s Netanyahu doing in Moscow?


As England and Croatia were battling it out in the second semi-final match of the 2018 World Cup on Wednesday in Moscow, Israel’s Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu was one of the guests inside the VIP area of Luzhniki Stadium.

Israel is not competing in the tournament. The team has qualified for the Fifa World Cup once, 1n 1970. So Netanyahu was in Moscow to discuss Iran’s presence in war-torn Syria and Russia’s role in the Middle East.

Israel used to be in Asian Football Confederation but due to ‘safety reasons’ they joined Oceania Football Confederation before settling in Union of European Football Associations in 1994.

Croatia’s Vida booed by Russians


On Wednesday, Russian fans finally got a chance to get back at Croatia’s defender Domagoj Vida following his ‘glory to Ukraine’ video that went viral moments after his team beat Russia 3-4 on penalties in the quarter-finals played earlier.

The slogan has its roots in Ukraine’s nationalist and anti-Russian movement in the 20th century, and became the rallying cry for a 2014 revolution in Ukraine. In the ensuing conflict Russia annexed Crimea in eastern Ukraine.

Whenever Vida touched the ball in Wednesday’s semi-final against England, Russians in the stadium would boo him.

Scribes pant under heavy workload

Covering the Fifa World Cup is exciting, but it requires patience, proper planning and a lot of energy.

For instance, Saturday’s quarter-final match between Russia and Croatia in St Petersburg started at 9pm. With the teams tied 2-2 after 120 minutes of football, the match went into penalties.

It was not until after midnight that the match ended, then journalists started filing stories for their media houses in the early hours of Sunday.

That means you reach your hotel room around 2am, and you are up at 5am to get ready in time to board the media van to cover team training sessions and press conferences.