Foreign World Cup Fans in the Eyes of the Russian Internet
Igor Ivanko / Moskva News Agency
By all accounts, the football World Cup has been a major public relations coup for Russia.
News coverage and countless interviews show foreign visitors — who may have had reservations about visiting the country in the wake of tensions with the West — partying and exploring in Russia. FIFA president Gianni Infantino gushed to President Vladimir Putin that “we all fell in love with Russia” at a meeting at the Kremlin on Friday.
But what impression did the estimated 2 million or more foreigners visitors who flocked to the country for the football festivities make on Russians themselves?
The answers may partly lie in search questions from Russia’s biggest search engine, Yandex, which collected and published users most common queries about visiting fans on Friday.
"How did they get here?” wondered Russians about Colombian visitors. “How do you tell them apart?” they asked the search engine regarding Peruvians. And “where did they get money for tickets?” was the most common question Russian users asked about Nigerian fans, Yandex reported.
Russian users also asked why there were so few French, Polish and English fans. South Koreans appeared to fly under the radar. “Why are they not noticed?” was the most common query related to visiting South Korean fans.
The most common Yandex question for Costa Ricans, meanwhile, was: “What do you talk to them about?”
The fans’ chants and songs drew the most interest from Russian users, who queried Yandex about England supporters singing the "I don’t wanna go to work" lyrics from "Don’t Take Me Home" by Ikke Hüftgold. Other inquiries asked about the “Allez Les Bleus” song of French fans, Belgium’s “La La La” fan song and the chants of supporters from 17 other nations.
Each country also stood out with unique search terms related to internet stories.
Belgians were most famous on Yandex for singing the Russian national anthem, Moroccans for chanting "Spasibo, Rosiya,” and the Iceland fans for singing the Russian folk song "Kalinka."
Saudi Arabia, Senegal and Japan have all been searched for alongside one particular activity: cleaning up garbage at a World Cup stadium. In fact, Yandex said the most common question for Senegal was “Why did they clean up after themselves?”
Perhaps they knew they had to leave a good impression with the hosts.
Reuters contributed reporting to this article.