In 24 hours the biggest sporting event on the planet will have started in Moscow, Russia.
Nikolskaya Street a pedestrian street in the Kitay-Gorod of Moscow is a dream place for football documentary street photography. Here in Moscow, fans from Saudi Arabia, Egypt, Peru and Morocco are in abundance. As are Colombia, Argentina and Mexico.
Everyone sends me emails or Facebook messages saying, “be safe”. I have never felt more safe in my life.
It is so nice to see fans from Colombia, Peru and Mexico getting along whilst wearing their country’s shirts without annoying the locals taking their tops off and dropping cans of larger everywhere. The traveling South Americans always trying to improve my Latin Spanish skills with a smile and giving me all the time in the world. The locals seem to be snapping away more than me on their mobile telephones.
Not everything has been smooth though. Upon our arrival our taxi driver was given the wrong address by the taxi company, delivering us on the doorstep of another airport, resulting in an extra £70 cost at 3am in the morning.
We still have not sorted out the entire schedule yet. Getting to two cities especially is near on impossible. For just one game, a return trip from Moscow photographing Panama is cheaper to go to the country of Panama rather than follow the fortunes of Hernán Darío Gómez and his merry men. We have just burnt another $1,000 after realising some of the free trains we had booked, do not get us back into Moscow in time to fly to our next destination.
We have to travel very light but for one airline it is an extra £32 should you wish to take your cat with you.
Cat or no cat, a Russian Sim Card with 30GB of tethered data and 500 minutes free talking time only set us back £8 for the month. Hotel wifi is pretty crap, though the hotel does have 1770+ rooms!
Getting around is relatively easy and always a joy in the quite stunning Moscow Underground system. Signs galore everywhere ensure that no one will get lost getting to the stadia.
Football has really hit the capital city.
Footballers sharing the shelves with the popular Russian dolls.
And the new metro stop for the Spartak Stadium has been turned into a football theme too.
I will discuss the volunteers another time but they are out in force assisting to fans and the needs of the media during the tournament.
Vladimir Putin T-shirts have been joined with football themed clothing too.
And shopping malls littered with football decorations, with one we visited, having a football pitch carpet and a very long table football game.
There are still many games that myself and my colleagues do not have guarantees of attending just yet. Many of the games in Moscow are over subscribed with photographers. It does not help my cause being “Scottish” for this event. My beloved English federation failing to adhere to FIFA protocol again and pass names to FIFA for processing. Quite literally at the 11th hour on deadline day the Scottish FA helped me out.
Apart from this and tackling the logistics, there has been nothing to grumble about. Moscow is a huge vibrant city. Full of people with massive cultural differences compares to Tokyo, LA, Panama City or Lima, but everyone seems to be respectful and glad that you are in their country. Gaining accreditation was easy. The only difficulty was navigating the very heavy rain.
Unlike the Moscow of old, in 2018, everyone seems very photography and picture friendly, taking pictures of each other in a seemingly friendly and colourful city.
The local Moscow females win the fashion battles with their visitors and the men hands down.
Though even in the official FIFA World Cup store, the selection of clothes available to the females is vast – amazing jackets, long sleeve, short sleeve FIFA garments that I have never seen before. The ladies here obviously like to shop! Only a few coloured T-shirts available for the men.
One more sleep then it begins. It certainly does not seem 4 years since we were in Rio.
All pictures and text © AMA SPORTS PHOTO AGENCY 2018