World Cup 2018 diary: Waistcoat shortage, rubber chickens and artistry

Day 27 of the World Cup saw France celebrate artists away from the pitch, while England made use of rubber chickens in training.

A toy chicken fly during the England training session.   -  Getty Images

The semifinals got underway to much fanfare in St Petersburg on Tuesday, although several France supporters were admiring art off the pitch before watching their team triumph on it.

England finalised its preparations for Wednesday's clash with Croatia, meanwhile, using some rather unorthodox training methods before their flight to Moscow.

Elsewhere, Omnisport talked the importance of diversity at these finals with FARE and Gareth Southgate's fashionable choices took their toll on a stock of waistcoats.

Here are the best bits you might not have seen from day 27 in Russia.

ENGLAND CHICKEN OUT IN TRAINING

England carried out its final training session in Zelenogorsk early on Tuesday before heading to Moscow for the semi-final, and it had a novel way of mixing things up.

The players warmed up with what appeared to be a game of 'catch the rubber chicken', with Harry Kane, Jordan Henderson and Raheem Sterling all involved.

It remains to be seen whether it has genuine sporting merit, a therapeutic effect, or the coaching staff simply wanted to stop everyone becoming a bit bored.

READ: Young, worldly-wise England braces up for Croatia challenge

TOURISTS MAKE A FAVOURABLE IMPRESSION

Antoine Greizmann was strutting his stuff as evening set in at Krestovsky Stadium but he was not the only French artist you could get a load of in St Petersburg today.

Across Palace Square from the Winter Palace – the main building of the sprawling Hermitage Museum – lies the General Staff Building, a dedicated and vast museum space for modern art.

The bulk of the collection comes from the French impressionist school and there were plenty of Les Bleus fans, wearing their Fan IDs, taking in Monet, Cezanne, Degas, Renoir and the rest before switching their attentions from canvas to pitch.

WATCH FOOTBALL, BE YOURSELF

The Football Against Racism in Europe (FARE) Network has made its presence felt at the 2018 World Cup with its Diversity House initiative, established in Moscow and St Petersburg.

FARE is an umbrella of organisations, ethnic minority groups and LGBT+ fans working to fight discrimination and promote diversity in football across 39 countries where it is operational.

Strewn with comfortable football beanbags to watch World Cup matches on a big screen, the St Petersburg Diversity house features exhibition posters on women's football, the history of the game in Russia and professional players from a refugee background among others. The causes FARE fights for are intertwined with long-standing concerns regarding the Russian state and society in the current era and Pavel Klymenko, who works for the group in Eastern Europe, explained the motivation behind their World Cup presence.

ALSO READ: Deschamps eschews artistry in pursuit of greatest prize

He told Omnisport: "The basic concept of Diversity House for the FARE Network has been to put issues of diversity and inclusion into the spotlight and to celebrate diversity during this World Cup. We think it provides a magnificent opportunity to talk about how ethnic minorities, LGBT people and disabled people are part of the story of the history of football and part of the present time."

"The Diversity Houses are designed as safe spaces for ethnic minority and LGBT fans, where they can come to spend time, watch football and be themselves."

SUPPLIES RUN SHORT AHEAD OF 'WAISTCOAT WEDNESDAY'

Gareth Southgate has cultivated huge support for England in recent weeks, but it's his sartorial elegance that has really taken hold in the last few days.

The Three Lions boss has taken to sporting a waistcoat for matches, which has generated something of a cult following on social media, with a number of accounts created in the garment's honour.

Fans have begun to buy replicas from Marks & Spencer, who provide England's suits and smart attire, ahead of so-called 'Waistcoat Wednesday' – the day of the semi-final against Croatia.

Such is the waistcoat's popularity that Moscow's branch of the M & S store has sold out in several sizes, meaning we should expect plenty of well-dressed fans inside Luzhniki Stadium.

ALSO READ: Southgate: World Cup win would be 'crazier' than 1966 triumph

CROATIA MIGHT BE COMING TO A STANDSTILL

One of the best things about this often surprising World Cup is the reaction from incredulous fans after their team does something memorable.

England and Croatia supporters have been seen celebrating in the streets back at home after watching their respective sides reach the last four.

Given Croatia has a population of only just over four million people, head coach Zlatko Dalic feats the country could grind to a halt if it manages to get its hands on the World Cup trophy.

"I don't know to what extent you see the level of celebrations in Croatia, everyone is out in the streets celebrating, it's a great source of pride for us," he said. 

"I can't imagine what would happen if Croatia won the World Cup. Probably nobody would go to work. We're not working much now!"

 

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