Published on : Monday, May 28, 2018
In light of Russia’s near-pariah status in much of the Western world, majority of Russians are considering the 2018 World Cup soccer tournament as an opportunity to place a more welcoming face on their country.
Therefore, in a classroom close to the noisy train tracks in southern Moscow, Evgenia Zaborskaya, a language teacher is questioning approximately 20 Moscow transit staffs on the way to be polite and helpful — in English.
“We want to attract more foreign tourists; it’s good for our economy,” Zaborskaya explains as she conducts the class through a discussion on the way to give out directions in terms of popular sites like the Red Square.
Until lately, there were couple of non-Cyrillic signs in Moscow and dearth of English speakers to assist. However, in the lead-up to the tournament the transit system has offered intensive training to hundreds of staff members who will be managing the responsibility during the competition. Russia anticipates organizing as many as one million foreign visitors during the month-long event, which kicks off June 14.
“We just want to show the beauty of Moscow and the Moscow underground,” said Zaborskaya.
When Russia was honored the most-watched sporting event in the world back in 2010, very few had expected to the extent to which its relationship with the West would deteriorate.
The list of crisis points has been quite extensive like Russia’s conquest of Crimea; the downing of Malaysian Airlines flight 17 by a Russian missile; the Olympic doping scandal; accusations of meddling in the 2016 U.S. election; and allegations over the poisoning of a former Russian spy in England have led to successive rounds of political and economic sanctions.