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From Russia with love… Brief stories from the World Cup

Uruguay and Saudi Arabia supporters get to know each other before their teams’ Group A clash © AFP / JOE KLAMAR

MOSCOW, Russian Federation, Jun 20 – AFP Sport takes a look at some of the stories you may have missed at the World Cup:

Love in a time of football

The World Cup has led to a surge in use of dating app Tinder, mirroring the jump in interest in the lonely hearts service at the Pyeongchang Olympics in February. The Moscow Times reported that one of Russia’s four biggest phone operators MTS had seen an 11-fold increase in match-day Tinder traffic near stadiums and fan zones in Moscow, St Petersburg and Saransk.

Streaming shambles

World Cup fans in Australia fans are furious after an experiment to show some games only via live streaming for the first time failed because broadband infrastructure could not cope with demand.

The backlash among those left staring at a blank error screen has been so intense that Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull stepped in, telling telecommunications firm Optus to get its act together.

“I have spoken with the Optus CEO, Allen Lew. He assures me he is giving the World Cup streaming problems his personal attention,” tweeted Turnbull.

Public broadcaster SBS has now stepped in and will screen group-stage matches on free-to-air television while Optus, labelled “Floptus” in local media, attempts to sort out its problems.

Germany divisions

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Thomas Mueller insists that there isn’t a problem in the Germany dressing room © AFP / Odd ANDERSEN

“Of course a few players sit together who get on well. It’s a natural thing. I sometimes change tables at meal times because I am a variable kind of guy, a multi-purpose eater. Are there factions and little groups in the squad? No. I have seen it happen.

“In 2012, it was an issue with the Dortmund players and the Bayern players eyeing each other suspiciously and we didn’t have the best kind of chemistry back then but it is totally different today.”

— Thomas Mueller on suggestions there could be divisions within the Germany squad.

Baby flight

Denamrk’s World Cup squad clubbed together to hire a private jet so teammate Jonas Knudsen could make a flying visit back home to see his newborn baby. The Ipswich defender left Russia on Sunday the day after the Danes’ 1-0 opening win over Peru and returned 24 hours later. “We are human beings before footballers, I’m a father myself,” explained ‘keeper Kasper Schmeichel. “We wanted to make a gesture, we did everything so that he could return home.”

Amrabat shared his water with a thirsty assistant referee © AFP / FADEL SENNA

Moroccan generosity

During the game against Portugal, Morocco midfielder Nordin Amrabat signalled to his bench that he needed a drink. Receiving a container of water, he saw the assistant referee watching him enviously, Amrabat offered to share his supply. The touchline official hesitated before gladly accepting.

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