June 7, 2018 / 3:38 PM / 10 months ago

Swamp soccer and bumper ball: World Cup fever hits Russia

A man plays football while wearing giant shoes as he takes part in a fun contest prior to the Russian Cup final outside the Volgograd Arena in Volgograd, Russia May 9, 2018. Picture taken May 9, 2018. REUTERS/Tatyana Makeyeva

Ahead of the World Cup, soccer-loving Russians have been playing the beautiful game in all its eclectic glory.

Be it swamp soccer, big shoe football or motoball on motor-bikes, Reuters photographers have captured enthusiasts playing the sport’s niche offshoots ahead of the World Cup that kicks off in Russia on June 14.

Football players in giant inflatable balls spar in a game of bumper ball in a gym hall in Moscow. Outside the capital in the town of Vidnoye, a helmeted motorcyclist for the Metallurg motoball club watches as a ball rolls past a flailing goalkeeper.

In the northern Leningrad region, mud-caked footballers spurn conventional pitches altogether and take to playing in a swamp. In the southern region of Chechnya, which was rebuilt after two devastating wars, men on crutches play amputee soccer.

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