Our last day in Saransk left us with a pleasant aftertaste. Despite all the issues we had during our stay, the whole 8K operation ran smoothly. On June 19th Japan played Colombia, which made this clash a match of an extra importance, as the transmission was being showcased to a massive audience at two 8K Super Hi-Vision theatres back in Japan. The highlight of the day for our Japanese team, was obviously, the triumphant 2:1 victory of their national team – which literally no one had actually expected.
As we found out from our colleagues, it was the first time in the history when Team Japan managed to beat a Latin American team. One of our Japanese producers had even placed a bet on Colombia winning 3:0, so I’m guessing his joy had a bittersweet flavour.
I managed to watch the second half in the stadium, and I must admit it was a really dynamic, interesting game, which I enjoyed more than the opening match between Russia and Saudi Arabia. The Japanese really deserved it.
Mordovia Arena was bursting with the yellow colour, stuffed with Colombian fans all wearing their national team’s T-shirts. They outnumbered the Japanese fans by far, and I couldn’t help feeling sorry for them witnessing their loss. They left the arena in the same quiet pensiveness as their fellow Peruvians two days before.
I myself was cheering on Japan of course – after all, it’s my second home country. But what really made my day was the Russian national team winning 3:1 against Egypt later in the day, guaranteeing itself their spot in the 1/8 stage of World Cup 2018. Considering that almost half of the football fans across Russia had believed that our team wouldn’t make it out of the group stage, no wonder the whole country went mad that night.
We were watching the game in a nice bar called “Big Pig” in the heart of Saransk, the only place we found in town that served amazingly delicious food – if you’re ever in Saransk (life can be pretty random, can’t it?), do check it out. I really appreciated all the Japanese fans, which flooded the bar that night, screaming “Rosh-shi-ya! Rosh-shi-ya!” celebrating each goal of our team.
Another highlight of the day was the Mordovian museum of Arts, which is working 09.00-24.00 on each match day. Again – if you’re ever in Saransk, particularly now that World Cup is on (and there are two more games coming up there), do see the museum. Mordovian contemporary art hall showcases some stunning paintings, and there is a fascinating exhibition of wooden sculptures by a local artist Erzya. It leaves an impression of something very pure, very much down to the roots of the local ethnicity, empowered by the beauty of nature. Or am I being too sentimental here?
At the moment we’re back to Moscow, awaiting Belgium vs Tunisia clash at Spartak Stadium. Saransk hasn’t been bad, but I have to admit that it was a little challenging, so we’re all extremely happy to be back. Thank you, the city of foxes!