Egyptian daily to World Cup fans: Beware of Russian women

FILE - In this Sunday, Oct. 8, 2017 file photo, Egyptian fans celebrate after their win over Congo during the 2018 World Cup group E qualifying soccer match in Alexandria, Egypt. “Youm7,” or Seventh Day, a Cairo daily, said in an article in the newspaper’s online edition Wednesday, Oct. 18, 2017, that Egypt’s qualification at next year’s World Cup has made many male fans dream about traveling to Russia to meet local women and is warning them they should lower their expectations about meeting Russian women. (AP Photo/Nariman El-Mofty, File)

CAIRO — Egyptian fans traveling to watch their soccer team play at the World Cup should lower their expectations about meeting the kind of beautiful Russian women men rave about at home, according to an article published in a Cairo daily that reads like an informal travel advisory.

"Youm7," or Seventh Day, says Egypt's qualification for the World Cup has made many male fans dream about traveling to Russia to meet local women, "but because we in Youm7 are always looking out for you, we decided to open your eyes about the reality of Russian women before you start packing."

Stereotyping foreign women is widely common among Egyptian men, with those from Russia routinely represented as being blonde, passionate and with athletic bodies. Just as common is the harassment of foreign and local women in Egypt and men bragging about their sexual prowess.

Hundreds of thousands of Russians annually visited Egypt until October 2015 when Islamic militants blew up a bomb they planted aboard a Russian airliner, killing all 224 people on board. The bomb went off shortly after the aircraft took off from a popular Red Sea resort city in Egypt's Sinai Peninsula, prompting Moscow to suspend air links with Egypt.

If the suspension remains in place until next year's World Cup, Egyptian fans will have to reach Russia via a third destination, making their journey significantly longer and more expensive.

Playing on the theme of local soccer fans eager to befriend Russian women, a video widely shared on social media purportedly shows three Russian women joyously swaying to popular Egyptian music known as "mahraganat" while in a car.

"How Russian women reacted when they heard of Egypt's qualification," read the comment accompanying the video.

In an article published in the newspaper's online edition Wednesday, reporter Menna Allah Yehia advised traveling fans to pack their checkbooks.

"Generally, Russian women love money and always look for it," she wrote.

In another piece of advice, she wrote: "Don't try to escape your fat wife to look in Russia for the skinny woman of your dreams. It is difficult to find a Russian woman with an average weight. They are either very slim or very fat."

The article appeared on the back page of the newspaper's print edition on Tuesday, with a photograph of a blonde Russian woman with the country's red, blue and white flag painted on both cheeks.

"The reason why I wrote the article was to represent Egyptian women, many of whom expressed fear on social media their husbands will travel to Russia and hook up with Russian women," Yehia told The Associated Press.

She said she based the views stated in the article on personal experiences and dismissed the notion she stereotyped Russian women.

"All I am saying is that many (Russian women) have these traits or habits, but we don't mean all of them," Yehia said.

Seven-time African champion Egypt qualified for the World Cup with a 2-1 victory over Republic of Congo on Oct. 8. The win sent the Pharaohs to their first World Cup since 1990 and for only the third time ever.

Their qualification left Egypt buzzing with excitement, with thousands of fans already making plans to travel to Russia to watch the team play. They won't know which of the eight groups Egypt will be placed in until the draw on Dec. 1 in Moscow, but local travel agents already are taking reservations and offering discounts.

Online news sites are meanwhile educating fans about how to get rooms in cheap hotels in Russia and how to move around the country. They have introduced fans to a mobile phone application teaching conversational Russian and providing descriptions of popular Russian dishes and the street addresses of cheap eateries.

One news site introduced fans traveling to Russia to a dating application in case they wanted to meet women while they are there. If two users like how the other one looks, according to the instructions, they can meet in the chat room and get to know each other "under the category of friendship, love or whatever else they want."

___

Associated Press writer Menna Zaki contributed to this report.

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