They can travel thousands of kilometres and spend up to the thousands in euros, all to support their teams. Euronews chatted with a Russian superfan who is rooting for the host team.
Superfans can travel thousands of kilometres and spend up to the thousands in euros, all to support their national team.
Euronews chatted with some of the most dedicated national team supporters around Europe. They tell us why — and how — they always cheer on their teams no matter the distance.
Meet Eduard Latypov: Russia's ultimate fan
Superfan Eduard Latypov is from St Petersburg, he is the head of fan club Russia Unites. They actively support the Russian national teams in both football and hockey and promote navy shirts (pictured) as the football symbolic uniform.
The fan club will travel over 7000 km during the World Cup to attend the matches.
How many Championship events have you attended?
I, and other fans of the club, have attended more than just football championships. We started in 2013 with the hockey cup in Finland, and then we attended the 2014 World Cup in Brazil and the European Championships that took place in France back in 2016.
The fan club also has an active part in organising the fan zones. They work closely with other fans, brainstorming possible ideas for chants, as well as banners to display in the stadium.
Any trouble with travel visas?
Not so far, often the procedure is faster than normal.
With the large geography of the World Cup in Russia, which cities are you visiting?
Apart from Petersburg and Moscow: Kazan (southwest), Kaliningrad and Sochi (coastal city on the Black Sea).
Will Russia win?
Although Russia isn't the favourite to win the World Cup this time, we keep the faith and a miracle could happen. Miracles such as the German hockey team at the last Olympic Games reaching the final. Why can't the Russian football team do it this time?
Are there many female fans?
More and more, about 40% of fans today are women. In our fan club, out of 3,000 fans, nearly half are women. I think this is great!
How do you get financial support?
The fan club is non-governmental, non-commercial and non-political. We self-finance and sell gifts.
We bought a license from FIFA for a shop in St Petersburg where we can sell goods. We organised a showcase around football and found a pub with a long stand for the fans of all teams to come together.
We created a symbolic uniform by using blue striped navy sleeveless shirts, the Russian team players will also use them off the field.
Any concerns about doping in Russian sports?
It’s sad when whole teams are punished for single cases, as it happened at Pyeongchang Olympics. Naturally, the fans prefer that their national team consist of naturally strong players.