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'I Totally Fell in Love With Russia': Mexican Football Fan Tells About His Trip

© Sputnik / Alexander Vilf / Go to the photo bankThe opening ceremony of the 2017 Confederations Cup in St. Petersburg
The opening ceremony of the 2017 Confederations Cup in St. Petersburg - Sputnik International
Mexican football fan Vicente Ochoa shared his impressions about his trip to Russia, the 2017 Confederations Cup and Russian people in an interview with

Ochoa has been attending major sporting events since 2006. He traveled around Central and Latin America, visited Europe and Africa, and in June visited Russia.

"For some reason, this time my friends were shocked: Are you crazy, are you really going to Russia?! It's dangerous, cold, and gloomy people there will never understand you having fun," Ochoa said, citing his friends' warnings.

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However, in his opinion, this preconception of Russia has nothing to do with reality. During the whole time he was attending the Confederation Cup's games, nothing he was afraid might happen ever materialized.

According to him, Russian football fans turned out to be friendly people. When his team won a game in Kazan, he thought people would hate him or even start fights with him. According to Ochoa, it had always been the case in Brazil, and even in South Africa.

Thus, he was very surprised when the Russians congratulated him and took pictures with him, saying: "Hey, guys, you played well."

"I could not believe it, it was very nice. And then a family came to us — a mother, a son aged about 8 and his older sister. There was a Russian flag on the shoulders of the boy, he grabbed my arm, pulled it, took off the flag and tied it around my neck. His mom said: ‘This is a gift so that you have good memories about Russia.' I could not stand just like that. I immediately took off my Mexican flag and put it on his shoulders. Then the boy rushed to me and started crying. I myself was on the verge, even now, when I tell you, I got goosebumps… Can such people be bad? I totally fell in love with Russia and will definitely return here next year," Ochoa said.

At the same time, Ochoa confessed that he had to face certain difficulties because the local police and event volunteers had a poor command of English. He also felt a little bit frightened during his train trip from Kazan to Sochi.

"The cars were old, and air conditioners did not work. Since this was the first train trip in my life, I promised myself that I'd consider other options next time. But it was still fun. We went for a walk, drank all the beer in the train's bar, we were hanging out together, singing. I got to know a lot of cool Russian guys who did not get bored, and by the way, now we are going to St. Petersburg in super-modern conditions: in a train with two floors, Wi-Fi and a shower," Ochoa said.

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In his opinion, Russia is totally ready to hold major sporting championships. The football fan plans to return next year to attend the 2018 FIFA World Cup.

The 2017 FIFA Confederations Cup was held in Russia from June 17 until July 2 in four cities: Sochi, Kazan, St. Petersburg and Moscow. The tournament involves Russia (the host country), Germany, Australia, Chile, Mexico, Portugal, Cameroon and New Zealand.

Before the start of the competition, the Western media warned football fans about "crazy Russians" and spread fears that foreign fans risked being torn apart the moment they set foot in the country. However, many media outlets were pleasantly surprised about the organization of the event and the warm welcome foreigners received.

"Despite fears about hooligans ahead of the World Cup in 2018, [foreign] supporters have found friendly hosts and efficient organization," The Guardian wrote, adding that Russia has "delivered a friendly, organized dress rehearsal."

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