The authorities in Volgograd have taken protective measures against tiny flying insects that have swarmed the World Cup host city and attacked football fans and players in recent days.
Ahead of England and Tunisia’s World Cup game on Monday, the city was invaded by thousands of midges which swarmed fans throughout the day and even attacked the players on the pitch at Volgograd Arena as they warmed up before the match.
Local officials have said that before future games a special mixture of water and vanilla will be sprayed at the stadium and Fan Fest zone in the center of the city to protect against the miniature invaders.
Volgograd hosts Friday’s game against Nigeria and Iceland, and will also be the venue for Egypt and Saudi Arabia on June 25, as well as the Group H game between Japan and Poland.
Organizers said that for these games a special concentrate of vanilla with water would be used, which would not cause discomfort for fans but would deter the midges – known as “moshkara” in Russian – according to TASS.
The UK press in particular had warned England fans of the supposed hooligan threat from locals in Russia – but instead the biggest attacks they faced were from the tiny flying insects.
Fans were taken by surprise as thy scrambled to find protection, while the England team were sprayed with mosquito repellant before the match against Tunisia.
One expert earlier told TASS that the number of the tiny insects invading the city on the banks of the Volga would become less.
“Now the Volga water level has become normal, it’s possible hope that part of the population [of midges] will die, so their number will not increase, it will become less. They won’t disappear completely, however, as the population usually lasts three to four weeks.”
Authorities had sprayed a 15km area around the Volgograd Arena from the air on the eve of the World Cup, which had apparently resulted in a reduction of the population.
The area around the city has numerous swamps and rivers, which make the perfect breeding ground for insects during the summer season.
Iceland player Alfred Finnbogason joked that he was well-prepared for today's game.