June 15, 2018 / 9:04 PM / 3 months ago

Soccer: From Messi to Machu Picchu, Latin American fans win over Moscow

MOSCOW (Reuters) - Latin American fans are winning the hearts of the Muscovites, singing to the residents of the Russian capital as they arrive for their World Cup matches.

A bridal couple in full wedding dress even posed for photos with chanting Peruvian fans in central Moscow on Friday.

Peru have qualified for the World Cup for the first time in 36 years, putting the Latin American country in the limelight and back on the map for more than mountains and ceviche.

“Yes, thanks to the football they know it, they know more than our food and all that, we have a restaurant, Machu Pichu, which is good, and now, thanks to the football they know us more,” said Elvis Nima Barrios.

Interest in the team is growing as more and more Peruvian fans arrive in the city, with residents taking photos and joining in the party with the ecstatic fans.

“It’s very emotional to see Peru in the World Cup, we are over the moon, and that is why there are 43,000 Peruvians come to Russia, to Moscow,” said Paul Castricius. “43,000. That’s a lot.”

For a country of 31.77 million, it is indeed, and many have spent days travelling to get to the party.

“It is very emotional, because Peru has managed to qualify for a World Cup for the first time in 36 years,” said Josep Arias.

“I am from Lima in Peru, and it is an incredible voyage, three days to arrive here with all our Peruvian compatriots, we never thought we would be here, but here we are and the sun is shining and people are taking photos, it’s incredible.”

One of the largest but definitely the loudest group is the Argentine fan base, which practically took over the whole pedestrian street leading to the Kremlin on Friday.

Hanging flags and banners across buildings, swinging off window-sills and banging drums, the Argentinians regaled Russian residents with football chants and songs.

“Football is like this in Argentina, they go into bars for different teams, chanting, singing their different soccer chants, offending the one or the other, it’s like this... we like it a lot, we have a lot of passion for football,” Hector Pabolo said.

Saturday sees Argentina take on Iceland - and the famous Viking fans which won over the hearts of supporters at the 2016 European Championship.

Reporting by Claire Watson, editing by Ed Osmond

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