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The echo of world soccer. Kazan after hosting the 2018 World Cup

On 6 July 2018, the capital of Tatarstan said goodbye to the biggest soccer championship of the planet: that day marked the last match held at Kazan Arena - the ¼ final between the national teams of Brazil and Belgium. The 2018 FIFA World Cup will be remembered for a long time: it deprived the champion hopes of great players and gave odds to teams that were not considered favourites, united millions of people on TV screens around the world and compelled tens of thousands of fans to watch the matches live. While the incredible world soccer atmosphere of that nail-biting season may have left Kazan, we have put together a guide of the city’s many reminders of the past championship which can still be visited.

Attendance records at the Kazan Arena

The main venue of the championship was Kazan Arena. Built for the World Summer Universiade, it became the first stadium in Russia ready for the World Cup. In 2015, the World Aquatics Championship and the final of the 2015/2016 season of the Russian Cup were held there, while in 2017, it hosted the Confederation Cup matches. During the FIFA World Cup, Kazan Arena hosted 11 national soccer teams and six World Cup matches: four group stage games: France - Australia, Iran - Spain, Poland – Colombia and South Korea - Germany, as well as a ⅛ and ¼-final games: France - Argentina and Brazil - Belgium. Lionel Messi, Neymar, David de Gea, Andres Iniesta, Thomas Muller, James Rodriguez and other famous soccer players played right here on the Kazan Arena turf.

Kazan became one of five host cities with the most visited matches of the championship: a total of 254,451 fans saw six games at the Kazan Arena. And for those who like numbers: the most-visited matches were the games between Brazil and Belgium, Argentina and France, as well as Poland and Colombia which gathered 42,873 spectators each. The least spectators were at the game between the national teams of France and Australia - just 41,279.

Supporters, Fan Fest and Festival Boulevard

Those who did not manage to get tickets to the Kazan Arena, watched the matches at the FIFA Fan Festival that was set up near the ‘Kazan’ Family Centre. Championship games were shown on two huge screens, concerts of famous Russian musicians took place on the stage, and fun activities such as races in traditional Russian headgear were held in the activity zone. At the time of the World Cup, this place, along with Bauman Street, became the most popular in the city, where the visitor count could be anywhere up to 25 thousand visitors on a daily basis.

Before arriving at the entertainment zone, fans walked along Festival Boulevard which was opened in time for the World Cup. This new square which starts from the exit of the ‘Kozya Sloboda’ Metro station stretches along the ‘TatMedia’ building. Children loved playing on the swings inside the pergola surrounded by flower beds and wooden pedestals, while adults took photos near the composition of concrete balls scattered across the Boulevard with the names of the 32 participating World Cup countries.

The Kazan Street Art Phenomenon

The story of the city’s unique series of dedicated soccer murals began in June 2017 during the Confederation Cup. In anticipation of the match between Portugal and Mexico, Kazan Mayor Ilsur Metshin noted the unsightly view from the windows of the Ramada Hotel (39 Chernyshevskogo St), where the Portuguese team was supposed to stay, and ordered to rectify the situation. The Supernova artists then painted a five-metre portrait of the captain of the national team - Cristiano Ronaldo on the wall of the tech building in the courtyard of the hotel, the view of which could be seen from the soccer player’s suite.

The habit of checking in on hotels has been with me since the Universiade. I merely asked where Ronaldo would be staying, visited the room, saw that there was a view of a boring garage from the window, and felt like [this would be an opportunity for] Ronaldo to be able to wink at Ronaldo.

We have enough area and space to capture [through art] the stars of world soccer. Ilsur Metshin, Mayor of Kazan

The Mayor then promised to make street art of Ronaldo’s main contender in the running for ‘best soccer player on the planet’ - Lionel Messi, if in a year the Argentinian team were to come to Kazan for the World Cup. And so it happened. For the ⅛ final match against France, a six-metre Messi was painted next to the portrait of Ronaldo since the striker of the Argentinian national team ironically checked into the same hotel as his opponent. By the way, the captain of the Portuguese national team updated the street art by adding the inscription: “I scored 4 goals [during the 2018 World Cup]. Can you beat that, Leo? ”

We have enough area and space to capture [through art] the stars of world soccer. Ilsur Metshin, Mayor of Kazan

A week later, on the wall of school №1 (14a Levo-Bulachnaya St) which is located opposite the Mirage Hotel, a third soccer player mural appeared featuring Brazilian footballer Neymar, who came to Kazan to play the ¼ final against Belgium. By that time, journalists had already created a rumour about “the Kazan graffiti curse” since both Ronaldo and Messi’s teams had been eliminated from the championship. Coincidence or not, but the Brazil team was also eliminated after the street art appeared. Realizing the power of these soccer murals, Ilsur Metshin urgently demanded that a mural be drawn of the Croatian national team captain Luka Modrić, since they were going to play Russia in the ¼ finals. Unfortunately, the street art was not completed in time, and as fate would have it, the Russian team ended up losing to Croatia.

The city’s most popular bars during the World Cup

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