Iran media blames humiliating World Cup loss on protests By Anthony Pidduck in Rome and Brussels
MOSCOW, Russia — In recent days, Russian media have come under particular scrutiny not just for a barrage of criticisms of the West but also for a series of stories blaming the loss of the 2018 World Cup on the protests that brought tens of thousands into the streets on social media. According to the most recent data, the Russian media have largely failed to acknowledge the role that such protests played in helping the team win the tournament.
In many ways, the Russian media’s coverage of these events has mirrored the coverage of the 2016 U.S. election. In the lead-up to the elections, Russian media outlets published a series of reports pointing to the role of fake news and paid rallies. Some weeks later, the same outlets began to publish articles blaming the election results at least in part on the role protests played in bringing Trump to power.
Now, it is not the first time Russian media have used the 2016 protests to frame the 2018 World Cup.
In recent weeks, there have been many similar stories that have been published in a series of Russia’s top news outlets, including RT, Sputnik, and Novaya Gazeta.
In a story published Thursday in RT, the newspaper’s editor-in-chief wrote that protests were the main reason why the Russian football team lost the 2018 World Cup. The paper’s opinion editor wrote the same day that the 2018 loss was due, in large part, to the “inability of the Russian people to embrace the idea of the World Cup in Russia,” including the protests. A day later, a story published in Sputnik cited the protest movement, which took to social media to protest the tournament’s decision to not hold a major parade in Red Square.
Such stories were repeated in other outlets, including the popular and frequently criticized newspaper Novaya Gazeta. In a Thursday story published in its main page, the newspaper wrote that “people” had helped Russia defeat South Korea in the World Cup. That same day, the same newspaper published an opinion piece by journalist Pavel Felgenhauer who suggested that the protests had helped Russia secure the World Cup. “In this way, the protests helped Russia,” wrote Fel