11 July 2018, The Tablet

Putin’s World Cup dividend

Football and diplomacy

Putin’s World Cup dividend

Russia fan Dmitry Gnatyuk pictured sporting a traditional headress


There were tears when the Russian national team returned to Moscow’s Luzhniki Stadium to bid the fans a last farewell. But they were tears of regretful joy rather than frustration. Disaster had been gloriously averted. When Russia bowed out, after a penalty shoot-out against Croatia, it had put on its best World Cup performance since 1970, when the Soviet Union reached the last eight in Mexico.

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