Russia could be the WORST host team in World Cup history


Seven thousand miles away from Russia inside the Arena da Baixada, Fabio Capello could only stand and watch as Islam Slimani ran off in celebration and Igor Akinfeev protested about a laser blinding him from the crowd.

Algeria were level and going through to the last-16. Russia were out – again.

That was in Brazil four years ago where the acrimonious group stage exit brought about a parliamentary inquiry. Capello, the highest paid coach at the entire tournament, was branded a ‘thief’ and given they were to host the next tournament, this would not be allowed to happen again.

Fabio Capello was the last boss to lead Russia into a World Cup as they flopped and went out

Fabio Capello was the last boss to lead Russia into a World Cup as they flopped and went out

Striker Islam Slimani dumped Russia out in Brazil and the exit caused a parliamentary enquiry

Striker Islam Slimani dumped Russia out in Brazil and the exit caused a parliamentary enquiry

But having not won a game since October 2017 – a 2-0 win over South Korea, courtesy of two own goals – there is an overwhelming doomsday feeling among Russian supporters that the next few weeks could show them up to be the worst host nation ever.

On the pitch – the fears are evident. But off it, there are even greater concerns after the 3-1 friendly defeat to France in March in Saint-Petersburg was marred by racist chants towards Paul Pogba, Ousmane Dembele and N’Golo Kante. 

‘I do not think we have racism on a scale that needs to be fought,’ Russia coach Stanislav Cherchesov said at the time, but nonetheless a £22,000 fine was issued and the watching world saw the challenge ahead.

Racist taunts towards France trio N'Golo Kante, Paul Pogba and Ousmane Demeble marred March's friendly and saw Russia handed a £22,000 fine as punishment for fan behaviour

Racist taunts towards France trio N’Golo Kante, Paul Pogba and Ousmane Demeble marred March’s friendly and saw Russia handed a £22,000 fine as punishment for fan behaviour

There is a concern that Russia will have opponents on and off the pitch during this month

There is a concern that Russia will have opponents on and off the pitch during this month

SOUTH AFRICA EXIT 

When Bafana Bafana saw their home World Cup brought to a close after a 2-1 defeat against a woeful France side, there was an overwhelming sense of pride, rather than anger.

Third in the group and only edged out by Mexico on goal difference, there was not a sense of national humiliation at the early exit.

South African President Jacob Zuma said following the France win: ‘You have done South Africa proud.’

Only time will tell if Vladimir Putin will be as diplomatic eight years on…

The beauty of a World Cup is witnessing cultures combine for a carnival atmosphere of football – but with fears of homophobic and racist remarks being venomously spat from the terraces, Russia are firefighting on and off the pitch on the eve of the tournament opener.

In the history of the World Cup, only South Africa in 2010 have failed to successfully navigate their group – but few from Moscow to Volgograd are holding out much hope they won’t join them.

Sepp Blatter opened the envelope and read out Russia’s name as hosts of the 2018 World Cup 2,751 days ago. In that time the team has regressed badly. 

A Euro 2016 exit – all but confirmed following a humiliating 3-0 defeat to Wales – only heightened the anger and panic of a nation on a squad…



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