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Playing dirty: swamp soccer a hit in Russia ahead of World Cup

While FIFA delegations inspect the lawns of the World Cup pitches, one group of soccer enthusiasts has decided to opt for a decidedly more rugged locale to have a kick-about - a North Russian swamp.

Swamp football was invented in Finland as a way to boost athletes' stamina, explains player Alexei Guryanov.

Since the first championship was held in 1998, the sport has grown in popularity and now has its own World Championship, held annually in Finland.

As his teammates sink in mud beside him, another player, Anatoly Sergeyev, speculates about the sport's appeal in Russia: "People who played big football used to complain about a disgusting condition of the pitches in Russia…these pitches resemble swamps indeed, so maybe we have some sort of a genetically inherited experience."

Russia will host the 2018 FIFA World Cup which begins on June 14 in Moscow, when the hosts face Saudi Arabia at the Luzhniki Stadium.

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