Russian Football World Cup 775X516

Why the Russians are grinning from ear to ear during the World Cup

I can't decide whether I like watching the World Cup or not. I mean I couldn't name you one single Exeter City player (sorry Matt Taylor!) and I have no idea about the Off Side Rule but there is something strangely watchable about the World Cup. Maybe it's because it's in Russia and let's face it that is interesting enough in itself, or maybe I'm just feeling slightly patriotic this evening, but I've just sat through the first half of the England v Tunisia game. Ben obviously has the prime viewing seat, and our middle daughter has curled up alongside him. I sidled in just as it was starting and have done my fair share of oohing and aahing and throwing in phrases that I have no right to, like "How did he miss that?" and "perhaps they're just a bit nervous". Anyway, it's 1-1 at Half Time and satsumas all round (Did you know that we always have a bowl of satsumas at the Practice so you can help yourself when you come in?).

So what has this got to do with teeth? stick with me.....apparently the Russian transport workers have been trained to smile at the estimated 1.5 million foreign spectators attending the 31-day, 11-city soccer tournament - yes it's that long! Alongside lessons in grinning, this behavioral modification in cheerfulness – smiling in public is often frowned upon in Russia – is just one way they are using the World Cup to improve the country's tarnished image and teach Russians to act differently. Authorities have also instituted an alcohol ban on certain trains, taught English to taxi drivers, and barred hundreds of well-known soccer hooligans from the games. Russians in the 11 cities are being asked to be courteous to the guests and also pick up litter. And a former soccer player, Alexei Smertin, has been hired to be an inspector for racist chants during matches - Good Luck to him!

I can't help but wonder why smiling is frowned upon in public. We all know the old adage about how it takes more muscles to frown than it does to smile so why not make life easy for yourself? and it's contagious. I often smile at strangers on the train or in the street just to see how they react and nine times out of ten you get a smile in return which can only be good for the soul, surely?

I’m not sure whether the final score in the next 45 minutes (see I do know something) will make the true England fans smile, but at least we can be reassured that the Russian transport workers will be smiling whatever the outcome.

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Rebekah Pearson
Rebekah Pearson
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