Hundreds of thousands of fans travelled to Russia this summer to watch their teams compete in 2018’s World Cup tournament.
Although France emerged victorious, for the fans in Russia everyone was a winner as the beautiful game brought them together despite their teams battling it out on the pitch.
33-year-old Cosmo from Ohio, America, and 33-year-old Allen from Melbourne, Australia, were two of the many football fans who travelled to Moscow and got into the World Cup sprit enjoying the festivities.
Watching Cosmo take a photo with an Iran fan for fun, Allen came up with the idea of challenging him to get a picture with fans from each of the 32 countries participating in the tournament.
Cosmo was more than up for the challenge and so decided to give it a go.
He exclusively told UNILAD:
I don’t see challenges as easy or hard. It’s the journey not the destination that matters. You grind and enjoy the fruits of your labour in the end.
I got most countries I needed in my time at Saint Petersburg, but was missing Senegal. I was committed to visit the Senegal embassy in Moscow if I didn’t encounter one. But thank god, I found one in the Samara Fan Fest when Senegal was playing Poland.
I tried my best to meet supporters outside of Fan Fests, more organic the better but I accomplished the majority of the photos at different Fan Fests. It’s as simple as asking for a photo and they are happy to take them. Usually first come, first serve.
I wanted to finish them quickly so I can enjoy World Cup normally. The fans were all nice and willing to take a photo except this South American with an Indian headdress who wanted money to take a photo with him.
Croatian fans were very nice to me, I went to Banya with some and a family invited me to a boat trip in the Croatian seasides.
Since America didn’t qualify, Cosmo had decided to support Croatia at the tournament since he had learnt some of the language in the past.
As Allen revealed, the hardest country was actually England although Cosmo did eventually find a fan in the mix:
I would say the most interesting part was finding the rarest fans, we were really stressed that he wouldn’t find a Senegal fan for the longest time but Cosmo did it.
It actually turned out that the hardest country was England! I think Cosmo literally just found the one guy in the whole trip who is pictured.
But respect to that guy, even if they were around I think most England fans were a little worried about wearing their colours for those first couple of weeks, for obvious reasons.
Obviously that all changed later in the tournament with the Russians being so welcoming and the England fans really opened up, but we had left the country at that stage.
Updating the friends’ Whatsapp group chat regularly with photos from the challenge, when he had succeeded Cosmo and Allen created a collage to celebrate.
Check it out here:
Both Cosmo and Allen agreed it was ‘really interesting to meet people from cultures you’d never usually come across’ when they met fans during the tournament.
Despite his initial doubts about Russia hosting, Allen thought they did a great job:
Despite the fears a lot of us had before we went and some of the more shady stuff their government has been up to, I think I speak for most of the people we met along the way would agree that Russia really put on a great show and the everyday people were really nice.
I guess it’s hard not to have a good time when you’ve got people from all corners of the world on vacation having one big party.
As Cosmo added, the World Cup is not just ‘the best sports tournament in the world’ but also ‘the biggest party in the world’.
Check out all of the photos Cosmo took with the World Cup fans here:
Emily Murray is a journalist at UNILAD. She graduated from the University of Leeds with a BA in English Literature and History before studying for a Masters in Journalism at the University of Salford. Emily has previously worked for the BBC, ITV and Trinity Mirror. When Emily isn’t writing about topics including mental health and entertainment, you can find her at the cinema which is her second home.