20180626 Denmark v France

The alarm went off at 12.50pm. A very hot shower made me half awake. The now effortless metro trip took me to the stadium door just in time for some salad and pasta and another litre of orange juice. Sadly they had ran out of bananas.

I so wanted to make an effort and not mention the tiredness today, but tiredness was on the next level for everyone. In the media centre glazed eyes and a nod were the greetings by many. Those who love to chat for their country walked past like zombies. I was the same.

Today I sat next to Miki again. There are a few Japanese restaurants in Moscow. I was wondering the other day if there was a Shabu Shabu restaurant. Anywhere else and being obviously less tired I would have seen if Miki and the other Japanese photographers wanted a meal out. Miki always jokes about being a girl and going shopping when she is in Paris. I’d love to explore the shops in Moscow, but not today. Game time then sleep was all that was on the agenda today!

The team sheet showed that Denmark were in red. Woo hoo! But France were in white. Boooo 😦

I don’t understand why red and blue clash. Someone please tell me. Again in weeks, months to come, who wants a picture of Griezmann in white!? The French team play in blue. End of.

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At France 98 I was in awe of the likes of Didier Deschamps. Now he is coach, when you are in his presence, there is still something about him.

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The Pog (Paul Pogba) on the other hand was on the bench today. He seemed totally relaxed, making jokes and certainly not giving out the impression that he should keep his head down and concentrate as his performances of late have not reached his normal high standards.

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I adore looking at old football pictures. One of my favourite books is by Peter Robinson. Peter collated an incredible book containing previously unpublished pictures from the 1966 World Cup in England. Fashions in the 60s were obviously staring you in the face but so were the fans wearing rosettes – no face painting in those days.

1966 Uncovered – Peter Robinson

Most of the time when I look though my camera when attempting to capture an interesting fan, they are on their mobile telephone, either looking at it, taking a selfie or chatting to someone else.

I wonder 50 years on what people will make of the images we are recording right now.

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Fans with ID cards around their necks as though they are the high and mighty and VIP at a rock concert and if we choose to photograph them, with their mobile telephone!

This chap did have a replica World Cup trophy under his arm, however.

The game was dull.

Very dull.

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Mundane stock images was all I captured today. No reactions of players after missing sitter, no strong battling tackles – when two players seem to tackle these days one gets a yellow card!

Just because it is a FIFA World Cup match, it does not mean that it is an epic. Game status never results in great pictures. You often have to work four times harder.

Both teams had done enough to qualify and roars of boos were to be heard on the final whistle by the crowd who had been anything but excited. It stayed 0-0. Very 0-0.

In France we shot the games on film. The films were collected by runners who gave them to people from Fuji Film who processed them into negatives for collection at the end of the match. Agencies who were clued up had a technician in the stadium who scanned in the images and sent them back to HQ, taking up to ten minutes a picture.

Twenty years on, our digital camera can transmit images back to servers in seconds. At AMA we have developed a system whereby an editor can see in real time what pictures the photographer is taking and then edit and caption and syndicate to the world.

During this tournament, not that I have had anything to do (!!!) I decided to make progress on version 2 of our system. Today was the first day of trialing it out. It worked with great success.

At the final whistle, the handshakes and greetings started – I was on the look out for Tottenham Hotspur goalkeeper Hugo Lloris of France and Tottenham Hotspur forwards Christian Eriksen, representing Denmark – and boy did they have what seemed like a good catch up and natter!

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Consequently once I had captured that, my work was done. I strolled out of the stadium straight back to the metro station Vorobyovy Gory. Considering the game had finished ten minutes earlier, I reached the platform with ease. Where were the supposed massive queues? Over 75,000 were in the stadium. The vast majority using the metro as transport.

The Vorobyovy Gory is one station down from the main station which I guess the majority the fans go to. TheVorobyovy Gory station was full of army people, police and other uniformed Russians. Utterly zero trouble. On the platform about one third down stood a group of imposing army people. Hence the France and Denmark fans and media did not go to close to them and instead gathered at one end of the platform. I did not think much of it at the time.

A train arrived. Everyone got on. 3 minutes later we were at the Sportivnaya stop. Here there were hundreds on the platform, if not thousands – the sort of number you WOULD expect from a capacity crowd. A couple from Korea stared at the fans on the platform fearing a massive crush in our carriage. They looked at me, I feared the same. Then the fans on the platform “stopped” as we the metro station then appeared to be empty.

What the Russians had done was to fill up the first four carriages with people from our stop, leaving the rest of the train empty. Then at the Sportivnaya stop, the fans filled the train in carriages five and beyond.

What great thinking.

I almost keep forgetting that the Russians got the first human in space. They celebrate their space success in every city with massive statues and monuments. It is the Russians every computer hacker fears. The saying here is that once you plug in an ethernet cable into your computer the Russians have access to everything!

One thing is for sure, despite their lack of smiles, they do use their brains. Transport is top class. Logistical issues are tackled with wonderful solutions. I hang my head in shame when I think about the hullabaloo at the Wembley Tube stop after a game – and that’s when I arrive almost two hours after the final whistle.

I was back at my hotel within 35 minutes!

Viva la France? No! Viva Russia!

 

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