Sputnik: First, let me wholeheartedly congratulate you on your marriage. How did you and your wife Lana, who’s from Ossetia, meet?
Maciej Rybus: Thanks a lot. After arriving in Moscow I lived in a hotel for almost a month and every day I ate out at a nearby restaurant. Lana was a manager there. So that’s how we met. I liked her awesome big eyes. At first I didn’t even know she was from Ossetia.
Sputnik: Was it a traditional Ossetian wedding?
Maciej Rybus: At first Lana wore a traditional Ossetian dress then she changed into something more “European”-style. We observed some wedding customs but they are not very different from those we have in Poland.
Sputnik: Was the wedding in Ossetia?
Maciej Rybus: Yes, it was in Vladikavkaz. We’re planning to have one more celebration with my family in Poland as it was hard to settle everything for my whole family to come to Ossetia.
Sputnik: You’ve played for FC Akhmat Grozny in Chechnya and at the moment you’re playing for a Moscow football club and you wife is Ossetian. You surely have lots of interesting remarks about living in multicultural Russia. What do you think Russians are like?
Maciej Rybus: Unfortunately, I didn’t get a chance to know more of Ossetian culture as I was there only for the wedding and that’s not much. I can tell you more about Moscow and Chechnya. When I arrived in Russia I lived in Kislovodsk for some time. We practised there and we went to Grozny to play. Later on the whole team moved to Grozny. I didn’t have any fears about going there as I’d been reading a lot about the region. I was surprised at seeing the city and knowing its people. I didn’t have any troubles there. Everyone was very sweet and helpful. I still have some friends in Grozny.
Sputnik: And what about Moscow? What are Moscow’s residents like?
Maciej Rybus: There are a lot of nations here. I feel alright in the city. There isn’t any negative feeling about me even though there’s a lot fuss about Russian-Polish relations. I haven’t had any trouble here. The only thing that I don’t like is the traffic.
Sputnik: No one likes it here. Do you speak Russian well?
Maciej Rybus: Yes, Lana is now learning Polish but for now we speak Russian.
Sputnik: Do you like playing for the Russian First Division? Is it better than the Polish one?
Maciej Rybus: I think it is better. Russian football is just developing. There’s the World Cup, there’ll be better playing conditions, there’re lots of modern stadiums being built. I’d played in Grozny for four years, then a year in France and when I came back I saw the level of football had grown.
Sputnik: The World Cup is nearing. You’re going to play for the Polish National team. What does the competition mean for you? Due to your injury you didn’t have a chance to play at the 2016 World Cup…
Maciej Rybus: Unfortunately, when I was playing for FC Akhmat Grozny I damaged my shoulder right before the World Cup so I couldn’t play. This competition here in Russia is very important to me. I’ve already missed one big event. This one is even more prestigious as the world’s best teams will be playing in the country where I live. That’s an extra point. I’m looking forward to the Cup.
Sputnik: What chances does Poland have?
Maciej Rybus: The entire group is on the same level. Definitely, the goal is to progress from the group. Each team can do that to get to the next stage. Our first game is with Senegal in Moscow and it’s going to be a key match as we’ll have to gain points. It would be great to win the first match. Otherwise the second match would be all in. and then we’ll see what happens. It’s the kind of competition where anything is possible.
Sputnik: What about the Russian team?
Maciej Rybus: Their recent games aren’t very optimistic as the team lost them though we have to admit that these were games against strong teams – Brazil, France and Argentina. The Russian team’s image can be deceiving. There aren’t such strong teams in their group so I think they’ll progress with their fans’ support. Then it’ll depend on their opponent. Only the strongest teams will remain.
Sputnik: Who do you think is going to win?
Maciej Rybus: I think it may be Brazil.
Sputnik: There’s been much discussion about the fans and pseudo-fans. Is there any tip on how to deal with hooligans?
Maciej Rybus: There isn’t any middle ground. I think everything is going to be in perfect order at the stadiums as it’s easy to guarantee. It’s actually hard to maintain in the streets or in the restaurants as it was in France for instance. I hope it isn’t going to be like that though it appears to be impossible as we know that many foreign fans are coming, the weather will be good and there will surely be a lot alcohol in the city. I hope the police and the guards will be able to maintain everything and that it won’t cause any scandals or demolitions.