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Pocketmags Digital Magazines
Pocketmags Digital Magazines

They think it’s ALL OVER

The World Cup in Russia this summer could be a disaster. Football’s showpiece event may not recover
Paul Gascoigne cries and Chris Waddle slumps after England lose to West Gemany on penalties in the 1990 World Cup

Stray dogs have roamed the streets of Russian cities for as long as anyone can remember. Following the fall of Communism in the 1990s, as prices rose and the economy collapsed, the animals began to proliferate: more people were throwing their pets out onto the street. Then, when the economy bounced back, capitalism began to generate plenty of waste for them to scavenge. Today, some estimates put the number of stray dogs in Russia as high as two million.

For a country about to throw its doors open to the multitudes attending this summer’s World Cup, this is presenting a big problem. Vitaly Mutko, the deputy prime minister, ordered host cities to install temporary dog shelters. But given the chronic scarcity of funds and the sheer scale of the problem, municipal authorities have a strong incentive to cut corners. With the tournament already rife with talk of corruption and fears of racism in the stands, this is where canine death squads come in

According to animal rights campaigners, cities are issuing tenders for companies to remove dogs from the streets before the first batch of World Cup tourists arrive. The methods are many and varied, but the most popular involve poison or else shooting the dogs with tranquiliser darts and then taking them to a shelter, where they often end up being put down.

Like so many of the scare stories emerging from post-truth Russia, the tale of the World Cup strays is probably a blend of grim reality and macabre western wish fulfilment about this distinctive country. And yet it also fits into a wider ugly narrative about the supposed greatest stage of the beautiful game. The whole way we perceive the World Cup has become warped, bearing no resemblance to the way its creators imagined it.

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In Prospect’s June issue: Isabel Hilton, Rana Mitter, Kerry Brown and Yuan Ren debate the rise of China and what it means for the UK and the rest of the world. Hilton argues that China’s ideas could dominate the next century, just as American ideas dominated the last. Rana Mitter charts how those ideas have developed from Confucius to modern political theorist Wang Huning. Kerry Brown explores how Australia is dealing with the rise of China, by reimagining itself as an Asian country and drifting from the US. Yuan Ren asks whether China’s young people will forge a new path for the country in the coming decades. Elsewhere in the issue: Steve Bloomfield explores Jeremy Corbyn’s foreign policy, asking whether Britain would become a silent protester on the global sideline; Jonathan Liew asks if the World Cup has seen better days; Miranda France explores the life and meaning of Frida Kahlo, and Simon Jenkins says Trump’s charge through the China shop of world affairs is not all bad news.