A guide to the New East
Photography

Faces of the World Cup: these are the people who made Russia’s epic summer

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    An old man rummages through souvenirs on Leningradskaya Street in Samara. Image: Lena Tsibizova

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    Italian chef Antonello Casu awaits guests in his small eatery Cusina Casu in Samara. Image: Lena Tsibizova

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    A kebab maestro making shawarma in Oasis, Samara’s best-known kebab place with as unassuming red-gold interior. Image: Lena Tsibizova

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    Friends photographed in the quiet Druzhba (Friendship) park, at the centre of which stands the only rollercoaster in Samara. Image: Lena Tsibizova

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    The steampunk-style establishment Parburg is known for being first burger joint in Samara. Image: Lena Tsibizova

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    A schoolgirl enjoying a break during a sports class in the Black Lake park in Kazan. Image: Lena Tsibizova

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    A cleaner at Kazan’s Dom Chaya, a canteen serving Tatar national cuisine and one of the city’s major culinary delights. Image: Lena Tsibizova

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    A guard at the parking lot outside the OKO tower in Moscow’s business district. Image: Lena Tsibizova

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    Afisha reporter Kristina Safonova in Moscow’s Zaryadye park, where she interviewed activist Marguerite Barankitse. Image: Lena Tsibizova

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    Anastasia and Sergey at Yula pizzeria in Nizhny Novgorod. Sergey is a co-founder of Yula and Anastasia works in a gallery upstairs. Image: Lena Tsibizova

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    A skater on the central Pokrovka Street in Nizhny Novgorod. Image: Lena Tsibizova

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    Students of a military college visit The Battle of Stalingrad Museum-Panorama in Volgograd. Image: Anastasia Tsayder

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    A man sells cured fish in Volzhsky, not far from Volgograd. Each river town in Russia has its own variation of cured fish. Image: Anastasia Tsayder

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    A boy on the Volga promenade in Volgograd, where Soviet fountains and squares have been taken over by local skaters. Image: Anastasia Tsayder

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    Kids pose outside the basketball pitch on Sheinkman Street in central Yekaterinburg. Image: Alexey Ponomarchuk

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When visitors to Russia for the 2018 World Cup look back on their trips, what — and more importantly, who — will they remember? Everyone knows the sensation of travelling abroad and experiencing a moment of unexpected understanding with the people around you: those points where you realise that, although you’re speaking different languages, you and your hosts are not so different after all. The World Cup in Russia saw thousands of people coming together to share experiences, but the real moments of connection were not in the high-profile matches and sporting glamour. The countless “ordinary” Russians, for whom life went on (roughly) as usual during the tournament, were far more relatable than the footballing megastars who jetted in and out of each host city. Outside of the excitement of the games themselves, visitors to Russia got to see just how relatable the regular folks of a much-maligned country truly are. Below are snapshots of regular life during the tournament, taken by three photographers in seven different World Cup host cities, which prove that everyday life may be predictable, but it is never dull. These are the true faces of the World Cup.

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