Going to Russia for FIFA World Cup 2018? These Russian words will be heard and Okolofutbola, beware; there’s Nagaika

Soccer Football - International Friendly - Serbia vs Chile - Merkur-Arena, Graz, Austria - June 4, 2018 Serbia’s Nemanja Matic in action with Chile’s Angel Sagal and Diego Valdes REUTERS/Heinz-Peter Bader

Okolofutbola: Hooligans
It means “around football” and denotes the Russian football hooliganism scene that initially modelled itself on English hooligans in the 90s but soon turned even more extreme. Unlike the beer-fuelled English, the Russians are maniacal about fitness, trained in martial arts and militant sobriety, while fighting that is. The marauding scenes at the 2016 European Championship in France where Okolofutbol’shchiki (the far-right hooligans) pounded English fans is an infamous example of their violence.

Nagaika: crack of doom
It’s literally a fierce whip, cracked by the Central Cossack Battalion to keep unruly elements under control. It was used to keep anti-Putin protesters in check, and is now being unleashed at the World Cup for crowd control. Even ultra Okolofutbola hooligans might dread this Nagaika whip. Cossacks, traditionally the fierce horsemen in the Czarist era with swords and horsewhips who became symbols of Russian military victories in the 19th century and for quelling popular home protests in the 20th century, will now crack the whip on football protesters. Nagaika is a whip borrowed by South European Russia from the Nogai people (hence its name). Traditionally, it was given to a Cossack boy to signal the end of childhood, to signify that he is now a responsible adult. It will now come down like a crack of doom on errant football fans.

Gorish: You Are Burning
Russians aren’t as subtle as the English. Where the English footballers prefer a more prosaic, “Man on!” to warn an unaware player with the ball when he is closed down by the opponents, Russians notch up the warning. They yell Gorish — “you are burning”. Act else you would be scorched.

Gorchichnik: Yellow Card
Gorchichnik were medical dressing made of soft-heating mass of clay or paste and mixed with mustard powder used for inflammations and soreness. The mustard gives the plasters their yellow colour – and its what makes the fans use it to refer to players who have been booked on the pitch.

Balabol: Chatterbox
In Russian folklore, a Balabol is someone who talks too much. Russian football fans use it sometimes to crib about a verbose commentator or a manager who is too much in love with his own voice. Certain cricket parallels emerge around the world in fact, but we won’t get there for now.

Sudyu na mylo: make soap out of the ref
Why soap up the referees, you ask? In Soviet Russia, stray dogs were at times culled and the fat used to produce soap. That term is now used by many Russian fans on erring referees, who in their opinion are biased against a team

Lazareto: Infirmary
When a player gets injured, the Russians prefer to say, he is in “Lazareto”, the name given to quarantine stations in maritime history. It dates back to the 18th century when sailors arriving in ships would be quarantined. Lazareto was not just used in the Soviet Union, but in other countries as well. It’s just that the term got stuck among the Russians. Incidentally, Lazarus was the biblical leper supposedly treated back to life by Jesus.

Na vtorom etazhe: on the second floor
In some parts in India, we say the top floor is empty to suggest a lack of brains. In Russia, they seem to get specific — second floor — and also mean something different. It refers to the aerial side of the game. When a team has conceded a few headed goals from set-pieces, it might be said they have problems in the second floor.

Sukhoi list: ‘dry leaf’
Dry leaf seems to be a common allegory used in football. In Portuguese, “Folha seca” (dry leaf) means a dipping free kick, while Russians use it to refer to direct goals scored from corner kicks.

Dogovornyak: Agreed Match, or Fixing
Hopefully, this term won’t be heard this World Cup. It’s a term used to describe the practice of throwing matches, that apparently was quite common in the Soviet Union. A team throws a match against an opposition and is rewarded with a return gift — a game thrown in its favour — later on in the season or even in the next. The practice is protected by a code of omerta and as recently as this decade, quite a few games came under suspicion.

Derevo: tree/Bad player
The usage is almost similar to how Tamilians use it. A technically bad player, who is tall and doesn’t move much. Just stands there like a tree. The Russians say the player has literally taken root on the pitch.

Devyatka: Nine/Top corner
It’s used to describe a goal scored into the extreme top corner (right or left). There is a Russian training exercise to improve shooting accuracy that divides the goal into 3 evenly sized squares. The squares on either side are subdivided into 9 small squares, numbered 1 to 9. For example, 6 would be bottom extreme corners on both sides.

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