A seat on the front row

Alright, alright-I know it isn’t Finland, strictly speaking, but it’s my blog and I’ll post if I want to. There was no international football in Finland during the break last month, so what was I supposed to do? Anyway…

A couple of weeks back I went to see Estonia vs Russia with Jussi Klemola, a journalist from Turku. I wrote this article about the game, and Jussi has kindly allowed me to use some of the photos he took. Apologies to anybody in the pictures but I’ve lost my notes and the captions are from memory-I can’t remember any names I’m afraid. Here they are:

Russians came from all the baltic states to watch the game. The first two we met had plenty to say about Estonians and Latvians(although they exempted Lithuanians from the criticism), calling them ‘Nazis’ and explaining that they will always feel Russian. Russians in the Baltic states have changed the demographic and political balance, and many of them resent the difficulty they face in gaining Estonian and Latvian citizenship.

These two were pretty excited about the game. The woman on the right is a big football fan and goes to most Estonia games, the other one was there for one reason and one reason only. ‘I really hate Russia!

4 Russians, fresh off the bus from Moscow and a little, er, ‘tired and emotional’. They were adamant about one thing though, that ‘this is only football! No politics!’

Now these guys……well, they were so far gone I doubt they could even spell politics. They had one song that they kindly translated, which went something like ‘Estonia, big and strong! Russia is like an onion we will crush under our feet!’ They were from Parnu, like the recalled defender Marek Lamselu. The guy on the right predicted a hat-trick for Marek, the other one said he’d score the only goal of the game. As it was Lemsalu missed a couple of gilt-edged chances before Russia scored.

The double-headed eagle appeared during the national anthems, along with a couple of banners relating to a disputed war memorial in central Tallinn.

Some friendly Russians? This banner disappeared at some point during the first half. There didn’t seem to be a great deal of love in the air, anyway.

In case you were wondering, the title is a reference to Vladimir Putin’s views on Estonian plans to move the aforementioned war memorial.


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