MOSCOW (Reuters) - Some Muscovites have found their daily commute on one of the busiest underground systems in the world flying past after city authorities began screening live broadcasts of the soccer World Cup in metro carriages.
The television screens usually carry information and local news items painting Moscow authorities in a positive light, but they have now been set up to show World Cup matches gripping the host nation after they qualified for the knockout stage.
“It’s great! If our team was playing right now, I’d be shouting and disturbing other people. But now I am watching it calmly,” said Valery Arakelov, a Moscow resident engrossed in Australia’s encounter with Denmark on Thursday as he traveled from work.
“I use the metro a lot and time flies by thanks to football,” said Bek Usmanov, a Moscow resident who described himself as a passionate soccer fan.
The Moscow metro is used by nine million people a day during the week. Opened in 1935, it was originally named after Soviet founder Vladimir Lenin and is still adorned with Soviet mosaics, marble statues and stained glass.
It now has public wifi in it, and 1,600 television screens were installed in metro carriages this year.
“I’ve had enough of reading newspapers and watching football is fantastic. Especially during the World Cup,” said Sergei Yelokhin, another Muscovite.
Some people in Moscow appear to have been watching entire games while riding on the circle line that loops around the city’s center,” Roman Latypov, First Deputy Head for Moscow Metro, said.
“We monitor passenger flows and we see that some of the passengers enter the metro when a match starts and they go around till the match ends. So the circle line now is extremely popular with some of the fans,” he said.
Latypov said he believed it was the first time in the world that World Cup matches had been broadcast live inside metro carriages.
Russia are the lowest-ranked team in the tournament and entered the World Cup without a win in their last seven international friendlies dating back to October 2017.
But they have scored eight goals in their first two matches and qualified for the second round.
Reporting by Maria Vasiliyeva; writing by Tom Balmforth; editing by Pritha Sarkar