Not just World Cup, Russia currently also home to Swamp football tournament
In northern Leningrad region, mud-caked footballers have spurned conventional pitches and are playing in knee-deep swamps
With the World Cup finally underway, football-loving Russians are getting dirty playing the beautiful game.
In the northern Leningrad region, mud-caked footballers have spurned conventional pitches and are playing in knee-deep swamps, leaving them exhausted, filthy and laughing.
The bizarre and dirty sport saw competitors face off in the village of Pogi on Saturday for a championship that would see one team out of nine crowned supreme swamp football stars.
Swamp football originates from Finland and is used to train athletes for cross country skiing. But the sport is fast gaining popularity and drawing enthusiasts looking for dirty fun.
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The players in this small village were seen moving through mud for what was usually momentary contact with an official Fifa World Cup ball in a bid to advance their team.
Anatoly Sergeyev who organises tournaments in the Russian village says swamp football fans will show their passion for the sport on the stands of the World Cup stadiums. He adds this version of the sport is great for getting emotions out. But fellow player, Sergei Strikha - known to his competitors as just 'The Beard' - says the game has benefits other than physical health.
"This is the best exfoliation, this swamp. It is even better than exfoliation procedures done in Thailand with fish, it is the best exfoliation. After this [playing in swamp] the heels become as pink as a piglet's bottom."
Exfoliation involves the removal of the oldest dead skin cells on the skin's outermost surface.
Swamp football tournaments have been held across the globe including countries such as Brazil, the Netherlands and China.
Sergeyev and The Beard say no training is required to play this strenuous game - just strong will power and a huge sense of fun.
Updated: June 17, 2018 12:00 PM