Russia’s picturesque cities, warm people and delicious food made for a welcoming World Cup experience, BBC Sport pundit Chris Sutton tweeted in a heartfelt farewell to the tournament’s host country.
Even as the UK media howls about Russia – which has again been pre-emptively blamed for a curiously-timed “nerve agent” poisoning – Sutton expressed gratitude for the hospitality (and flattering haircut) he received while covering the World Cup. He even went so far as to note that the host nation had been unfairly maligned in the run-up to the tournament.
Goodbye and thank you to Russia 🇷🇺 Portrayed negatively and unfairly before the World Cup.. we couldn’t have been made to feel more welcome!! Beautiful cities, friendly people,lovely food and world class barbers in Rostov.. Big thanks to the Chop Chop brothers👍 pic.twitter.com/r1k2WcmC2p— Chris Sutton (@chris_sutton73) July 8, 2018
“Goodbye and thank you to Russia,” Sutton tweeted out on Sunday. “[Russia] portrayed negatively and unfairly before the World Cup.. we couldn’t have been made to feel more welcome!! Beautiful cities, friendly people, lovely food and world class barbers in Rostov.”
Dissuaded by factually dubious media reports of the horrors awaiting them should they brave a visit to Russia, many England fans chose against traveling to Russia to support their team. But the positive experiences of those who came out – not to mention England’s success on the pitch – has apparently debunked much of the slanted media coverage in the run-up to the event.
“Shiny happy people: England fans phone home from Russia with love,” The Guardian’s latest report on World Cup beams. The article highlights how one previously-deterred English fan had flown out to join his friends for the quarter-final, after being “persuaded by the positive reviews of those in Russia.” An English fan who spoke with the newspaper said he had “nothing but warm words for the host country and the reception they had received.”
In a report filed on Saturday, a group of Brits writing for the Guardian noted that their first few nights in Russia dissipated all of their media-induced fears about the country.
“England are as welcome here as any other nation. The queues of Russians in Volgograd and Nizhny wanting to take photos with England fans and flags were a testament to this,” they wrote. “Although we are well aware you never really see the true nature of a country during a World Cup, the excessive negative press aimed at Russia pre tournament failed to hit the mark on what has been an incredible party.”
According to the fans, politics has yet to rear its ugly head during their overwhelmingly positive time so far in Russia.
“The political mess between Britain and Russia has clearly not affected locals’ ability to greet travelling fans with a full ‘ryumka’ of vodka and a smile on their face.”
England is slated to take on Croatia on Wednesday in the semi-finals, but The Sun and Daily Mail have already lost the narrative: England fans are raving about Russia – and it’s not too late to fly out!