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06 / 26

Lansing United at the World Cup

WRITTEN BY: Griffin Wasik
PUBLISHED ON: June 26, 2018

KALININGRAD, Russia- I never thought I would see the day I step foot into a socialist country, but here we are. 

As soon as we landed at the airport, a 6-foot-2 woman security guard yelled at us for taking pictures. Nothing says, “Welcome to Russia” like that!

Not to mention, it seems like NO one smiles here. I kid you not, it’s very rare. When you make eye contact with someone while walking down the street, it looks like a member of the mafia is about to attack you.

Also, on this journey, I was escorted out of a restaurant by a jacked bouncer for trying to use the bathroom.

However, I’ve now learned most Russians don’t hate Americans, they just hate the American government.

People here are actually very friendly and willing to help, it might take a little bit of Google Translate or hand signals to do something as simple as ordering a meal, but the people are nice.

Currently, I am staying in an apartment complex. Every time we hop in the elevator or encounter the locals, they try to draw up a conversation with us. Even if they don’t speak English, they are polite and let us know it through gestures.

Last night, we attended the Spain vs Morocco match.

There is nothing better than attending a World Cup match. The passion, the singing, the absolute chaos, etc. blows everything away.

While walking to the stadium, you see fans in jerseys wearing their country’s flag as capes, you hear all sorts of whistles, horns, drums and then see people with their face painted in support of their team.

At this match, I was completely blown away by the number of Moroccan supporters. I expected Spain to have the majority of fans, however, Morocco had more. Spain wasn’t even close.

And they were loud. The Moroccan fans leaped out of their seats, jumped up and down the majority of the game, sang at the top of their lungs and did many other things.

One thing that caught my eye was this guy with a replica trophy. This man was the talk of the section. He was a rockstar, people went up and took pictures with him.

Notice in this video when the lineup was being announced he would raise the trophy into the air. But then there were some players he didn’t like, my theory was they played on a rival club. For those players, he wouldn’t raise the trophy up, he would shake his head.

For those of you who don’t know, the match ended 2-2. Nonetheless, it ended with controversy.

Morocco was up 2-1 in stoppage time and in the 91st minute, Spanish forward Iago Aspas scored a wonderful goal off a flick. Or so it seemed, the flag was up for offsides.

One thing this World Cup has implemented is the Video Assistant Referee, a person who reviews the decisions the referees on the pitch make by video footage.

VAR overturned the call and awarded Spain with the goal. The Moroccan fans did not like the call.

It’s amazing to see some of the best players in the world compete on this stage. Although, to me, the crazy fans are just as good.

I will be attending the England vs. Belgium match later this week in Kaliningrad. In addition, I will see Russia vs Spain in Moscow and another knockout match in Saint Petersburg.

After each match, I will write a blog about my experience. You can follow it on https://lanunited.com/