The World Cup in Russia is proving to be a magnificent sporting spectacle. Billions of people around the globe have been tuning into a veritable feast of talent and drama, with goals galore to keep fans entertained.
Already, the tournament only in its first week of a month-long event has broken records. Not since 1954 has a World Cup produced so many goals in the early stages, with more than 20 matches so far resulting in goals in every fixture.
Surprises have been aplenty befitting the drama. Russia’s opening match against Saudi Arabia last week gave the host team a 5-0 victory and was a harbinger of the action-packed duels to follow among the 32 competing nations.
Organizing body, FIFA, has hailed the 2018 games as one of the best ever in the nearly 90-year history of the world’s most popular sporting occasion.
But perhaps the greatest surprise for fans and audiences tuning in around the world is just how convivial the championship has been. The 12 new world-class stadiums that Russia built for the event have seen top-flight football games as well as fans from every continent enjoying the goodwill and hospitality of the Russian nation.
It is almost funny to hear visiting fans express how much they are enjoying the friendly reception they have been greeted with from the Russian people. The question is: why be surprised? Of course, there is an explanation. The experience confounds the negative image of Russia that Western media have so assiduously tried to present.
Surely, that is the power of the “beautiful game”. To unite people in one common humanity to applaud the triumphs and even the tragedies of sporting together. Stereotypes are broken down and discarded by plain old human contact and goodness.
Let’s cut to the chase here. For the past four years in the build up to the tournament in Russia, Western governments and their docile news media have run a non-stop campaign to denigrate Russia as a pariah nation. They have tried to politicize the event as a means to discredit Russia as a country not worthy to hold the World Cup.
In so many ways, the Western media have tried to portray Russia as some kind of international reprobate nation. We won’t even dignify the claims by mentioning them specifically.
The cardinal outcome is that the myths and fabrications peddled by Western governments and media about Russia have been shown by the World Cup to be nothing but slander against the nation.
The sheer joy and entertainment afforded by Russia to billions of fans and ordinary people tuning in from around the world is the most spectacular negation of all the vilification that has been heaped on the country over the past four years.
Laughably, the US and its NATO allies have for years tried to denigrate Russia. Yet, even in these same nations, the media coverage has even had to succumb to the reality of Russia hosting a most magnificent event, filled with friendship and fraternity among people who simply delight in the beautiful game.
The goals on the field have been an absolute treat, among them Portugal’s Cristiano Ronaldo’s hat-trick against Spain. But perhaps the most spectacular was off the field. That is, the own-goal scored by Western Russophobes who had tried to paint Russia as a hostile place, as a dysfunctional country. On the contrary, the World Cup has shown Russia at its finest. A country open to the very best in humanity.
All we can say is: tune out of the Russophobic nonsense that the world has been inundated with in recent years, and tune into the county that you are seeing with your own eyes.
There is an inescapable lesson here. Propaganda and prejudice is being blown away in one fell swoop by real, shared experience among ordinary people of all nations, of all colors, of all faiths.
All the reprehensible and foul Russophobia paraded by Western governments and their mendacious media has been red-carded – in an instant.
Three glorious weeks remain in the event. Enjoy. And may the best team win.