Now then, not so very long ago we read all about Russian Ultras training in the woods. This conjured up various images in the imagination of the UK public. Crazed and physically very fit "militias" rehearsing ambush techniques, all focused solely on beating to death drunk England football fans. We saw clips in glorious HD of these Rusky Ultras wearing fatigues and boasting about how much blood would be spilled, how they were ready for action, how the England fans would be chased out of Russia in a mad charge of unrivalled violence. TV news channel after TV news channel rushed to air these chilling clips every fifteen minutes for weeks and weeks. Why ?
Obviously the editors and producers of these so called news channels all reached the same conclusion, that being that any England fan dumb enough to travel to the evil country that is Russia would meet a painful end. Obviously the events at the Winter Olympics gave them the signal that Russia was going to be hell for anyone who went there. Here is the thing, I watched loads of the Olympics, I saw happy and colourful people having an absolute ball. I saw and took notice of events I know nothing about. The snowboarding was BRILLIANT to behold. Everyone who took part in that deserves great credit. Athlete after athlete was bright and smiley, the sport was exciting and I can't wait to see more of it. Enormous thing happened at that event, Korea fielded one team. Brilliant to see, and will linger long in the memory as a turning point in world history, in the name of sport. Sport bridged a very large divide. Russia did that.
So, the WC thundered into view. The UK media , which is infantile and nothing but a huge PR arm for the current Govt, intensified the Russiaphobia by ignoring the good nature of the Olympics and keeping up the monotonous drivel about Russia being a battleground for football fans. Thousands of fans fell for the media mantra and did not go. The numbers at England games have been tiny. Last night V Columbia they were outnumbered by about 5-1. That is what the UK media did. History was made, England beat a very tetchy team in a penalty shoot out. Most England fans have grown up under a very dark cloud of knowing that England ALWAYS lose on penalties. History was re written. The ghost was laid. The noise was deafening, from the fans of the losing team.
Boris Johnson, and various other political figures had been pushing for the England team to boycott this event. Salisbury was used to validate this idea. Salisbury, for which we still have no credible answers. The Skripals have faded away. Their house has remained empty, questions remain unanswered. Remember the Maybot with her bouquet in the sunshine? All seems a bit odd now eh? Seems to me as if a huge PR exercise has blown up in the faces of the UK Govt. And, football fans have paid part of the price by being duped into missing out on history being made.
Russia must be wetting their pants laughing. They have staged two brilliant events, with smiles and noise and colour. Happy people from all over the globe, even when their teams have fallen, nothing but good things to say about Russian people being warm and friendly. Could you imagine a bigger compliment than that ? Putin sits there now, in his Moscow citadel, grinning from ear to ear. And quite rightly so. UK foreign policy is ridiculed the world over. This is a massive black mark on our Govt, the UK press too.
The only example I have seen of any fan misbehaviour concerned three pissed England fans acting like pissed England fans. Non of us are surprised. I hope those three have been tracked down and flung in prison, in Russia.
Russia, we owe you a huge debt. Two global sporting events hosted with panache.
Both those events will live long in my memory, for all the right reasons.
I just wish I was there.
Come on England , could it really be coming home ?????