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The World Cup is peaceful – where is everyone?

11:36 am, 25th June 2018

We were seconds away from broadcasting live from Lenin Square in Nizhny Novgorod ahead of England’s World Cup match here, when two burly guys in their 20s approached us, drunk on life and heading home.

But what happened next amazed me.

They stood still and silent, behind the camera and listened to what I was saying on live TV.

They didn’t jump on me, they didn’t abuse me.

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When the report ended they gave a thumbs up gesture and walked away smiling.

Welcome to Russia.

So much for the ultras and hooligans that certain sections of the UK tabloid press have been obsessing over for the last two years in the run up to this tournament.

On any street in the UK, that scenario would have ended badly.

I’ve lost count of how often this has happened to me.

A colleague texted yesterday urging me to “stay safe out there”.

You want the truth? I feel safer here than I do in London.

Yes there is a police presence. Yes the security is tight. Yes you are being observed.

But everyone here is fully aware of the ridiculous scare stories that grew wings and flew to the skies before even a ball had been kicked.

And the Russians are going out of their way to welcome the world.

Maybe there are ultras and hooligans, but the authorities are doing a very good job of hiding them.

In fact, the only terrible behaviour we have encountered has been from the sum total of three England “fans” who decided they should sing anti-Semitic songs in Volgograd and give Nazi salutes.

The only “hassle” (if I can even call it that) has come from online trolls back in the UK.

Maybe they need to get off their keyboards and put down their tabloid of choice.

I’m at a World Cup. They’re not. Block and move on.

There’s a beautiful world out there, if you embrace it.

The Russians certainly are.