Moscow has given English-language lessons to hundreds of metro workers and volunteers, doctors, paramedics and nurses along with taxi drivers, bartenders and hotel staff in advance of the World Cup, which kicks off today.
The Russian capital, along with 10 other cities across the country, puts its best cleat-wearing foot forward and welcomes hundreds of thousands of international spectators visiting the city throughout the month-long Fifa World Cup 2018.
So far, fans in the US have purchased the greatest number of tickets outside Russia, with 80,161, followed by Brazil (65,863), Colombia (60,199), Germany (55,136), Mexico (51,736), Argentina (44,882), Peru (38,544), China (36,841), Australia (34,628) and Great Britain (30,711).
Russian fans have purchased 800,000 tickets.
Though English-language training and new English signage in the metro system were planned specifically for the games, the changes also make Moscow a more accessible and easier city to navigate for future tourists.
As the country’s capital, Moscow has the honour of hosting the kick-off game between Russia and Saudi Arabia following the opening ceremony.
Along with the usual suspects on every Moscow itinerary – Saint Basil’s Cathedral, the Kremlin, the Bolshoi Theatre – the city has launched new guided tours to its famously beautiful metro system.
Participants will learn about the system’s architecture and its 100-year history. A total of 72 guided tours conducted in both English and Russian will run until July 15.
The event’s main stadium, Luzhniki, makes its grand debut following an extensive four-year renovation that expanded its seating capacity from 78,000 to 80,000 spectators.
Next week at Sokolniki Park, the city will erect a 9m vuvuzela armed with a loudspeaker that will broadcast the Russian team’s matches.
The installation will also be interactive, allowing fans and park visitors to sound the horn with their own voice by speaking into the microphone.
But unlike the infamously ear-splitting noise makers, this one will emit a “softer” sound no higher than 120 decibels, or the volume of a car horn.
Moscow is home to 130 nationalities and 12.3 million residents. – AFP