MOSCOW – The Latest on the opening day of the World Cup (all times local):
Russian women and visiting World Cup fans: be fruitful and multiply.
After a Russian lawmaker caused a backlash on social media by advising Russian women against getting involved with foreign soccer fans, her colleague is urging love and procreation during the championship.
The state news agency Tass is quoting parliament member Mikhail Degtyaryov as saying on Thursday that "the more love stories we have connected to the world championship, the more people from different countries fall in love, the more children are born, the better."
Degtyaryov is the head of a parliamentary committee overseeing sports. He said Russia is welcoming "fans from all countries, skin colors, all religions, all genders and all (sexual) orientations."
Degtyaryov spoke after his colleague Tamara Pletnyova suggested that Russian women may end up rearing the fans' children alone.
Some workers in Moscow will mark the start of the World Cup with a day off in a push to ease the Russian capital's notorious traffic jams.
Mayor Sergei Sobyanin appealed last week to companies to give their staff time off "so they don't end up in jams and there aren't transport problems." Those going to work are urged to use public transport.
While it's been far from universally accepted, some bosses have agreed to let their staff work from home or take the day off altogether.
Widespread road closures are expected ahead of the Russia-Saudi Arabia kickoff at 6 p.m., the height of what would normally be rush hour.
Russian authorities are reluctant to have the World Cup start against a backdrop of clogged roads, and they're also keen to clear the way for the various visiting dignitaries, mostly from ex-Soviet and Latin American countries.