From Russia with love… Brief stories from the World Cup

A poll finds Argentina fans are most prepared to sacrifice hard cash to see Lionel Messi lift the World Cup on July 15
AFP

Moscow (AFP) – AFP Sport takes a look at some of the stories you may have missed at the World Cup:

Financial gains

How much are you willing to pay to see your country win the World Cup? Dutch bank ING asked supporters of nine World Cup finalists. Argentines topped the poll, with 41 percent questioned saying they were prepared to give up one percent of their annual salary to see Lionel Messi and company lift the trophy on July 15. The French, Argentina’s last-16 rivals, were less committed, with only 14 percent prepared to sacrifice some of their hard-earned euros on seeing Didier Deschamps’s men triumph.

On the chin

Michy Batshuayi’s clumsy celebrations after scoring against England have become a source of online amusement. The Borussia Dortmund striker mishit the ball, it ricocheted off the goalpost and hit him smack bang on his face. He took it on the chin, tweeting: “Why am I so stupid, bro?”

Sacked

Football and politics don’t mix. A candidate for mayor in the Mexican town of Atlixco can certainly vouch for that. Juan Antonio Villarroel Garcia travelled to Russia to support the national team. His trip appeared on social media, and he was promptly fired. “He abandoned his responsibilities,” his political party declared. 

India’s World Cup pupils

Iceland, population 330,000, made it but India, population 1.25 billion, has never graced the World Cup stage. That hasn’t stopped Indians keeping a close eye on events in Russia — especially teachers at a school in Siliguri, which has organised a World Cup for its pupils. Each team wears the colours of one of the finalists, an opportunity to learn about each the country, its culture, geography, and cultural differences, but also the rules of football, perhaps in anticipation of qualification for Qatar 2022.

Ronaldo for president?

“Cristiano Ronaldo is the greatest player in the world.” That’s not only the view of all Portugal and Real Madrid fans but also the president of the United States. “They say he is the greatest player,” Donaldo Trump told Portuguese President Marcelo Rebelo de Sousa when the two heads of state met in the White House. “So, tell me, how good a player is he?” asked Trump. “Are you impressed?” I’m very much impressed. He’s the best player in the world,” nodded De Sousa. But despite his popularity, Ronaldo has no chance of swapping the keys of his dressing room locker for the keys of state. “So will (Cristiano) ever run for president against you?” Trump asked Robelo de Sousa. “He wouldn’t win! You know he won’t win?”. “Well, president, you know there’s something I must tell you,” replied Rebelo de Sousa. “Portugal is not the United States. It’s a little different!”

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