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Russia 2018 World Cup Notebook – Day 23

By JAMES ONYANGO MWAMBA
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Hawk-eyed Fifa men sniff out rogue scribes

World football governing body Fifa has gone to great lengths to protect its copyright in Russia. In the list of prohibited objects among print media journalists at media centres in all the World Cup host cities are radio frequency devices and television and telecommunication equipment, and Fifa has stationed officials with high-tech gadgets to sniff out any journalist who is tempted to go against the terms and conditions spelt out in the accreditation provided by the world body.

On Tuesday during Colombia’s last 16 match against England at Spartak Stadium in Moscow, hawk-eyed Fifa officials sniffed out a journalist who was illegally commentating the match live to his audiences back at home via mobile telephone. He was swiftly handed over to security officers.

Boy at supermarket gets to meet yours truly

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Since I arrived here in the company of fellow journalists from Kenya, we are yet to encounter any form of racism in Russia. Apart from people occasionally looking at you a second longer, everyone here has just been minding their own business, whether at the restaurant, bus stop, metro station or shopping mall.

But two days ago, we entered a local supermarket to shop for a few items and, while patiently queuing up to the till to pay, we met what we were not prepared for. Apparently, a teenage boy who was queuing with his mother to the till had not met an African all his life, so he looked at us with genuine surprise, wondering aloud whether we had suffered sun burns. His mother gave him a stern look and he quickly got the unspoken message.

Fisht Stadium named after Mount Fisht

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Located in the Olympic Park in Imeretin Valley in Sochi, Fisht Stadium was built for the Winter Olympics in February 2014, and hosted the opening and closing ceremonies of the Games.

The stadium hosted the 2017 Fifa Confederations Cup and now, it has been reconstructed for the World Cup. It was originally named after Mount Fisht, one of the peaks in the Caucasus range of mountains. In the local language, Fisht means ‘white head.’ The silhouette of the arena resembles a snow-capped mountain peak. After the tournament, Russia’s national team will hold training camps at the venue and play some of its competitive and friendly matches at Sochi. Sochi city is also home to Sochi’s Formula One Circuit.

‘Perpetrators of monumental theft’

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After England scrapped through the round of 16 with a 4-3 penalties victory over Colombia on Tuesday at Spartak Stadium in Moscow, Colombia captain Radamel Falcao said American referee Fabian Delph who officiated the match had been openly biased against the South American team. Football legend Diego Maradona said Colombia were ‘victims of monumental theft.”

And now English fans in Fifa media centres at Spartak Stadium and Luzhniki Stadium in Moscow have been labeled ‘perpetrators of monumental theft’ by their fellow journalists.

In turn, they have been quick to remind anyone who cares to listen of Maradona’s famed ‘Hand of God’ goal for Argentina against England in the 1986 World Cup quarter-finals in Mexico.