FIFA’s retro 2018 World Cup poster has split opinion down the middle
December 6, 2017 | 1:32 PM
by Gautam Viswanathan, [email protected]
The official poster that FIFA released for the upcoming World Cup in Russia, in 2018. Photo: Screengrab/YouTube/FIFA

Moscow: FIFA have released their official poster for the 2018 World Cup in Russia next summer, and the internet is unable to decide whether it is a creative work of art, or a hastily-assembled piece put together by the organisers at the last minute.

The poster has been designed by famed Russian artist Igor Gurovich, and features legendary goalkeeper Lev Yashin sprawling to grab a football, on which a map of Russia has been superimposed. The poster also carries tributes to Russia's achievements in space exploration.

The poster has its origins in constructivism, a school of design that picked up pace during the 1920s and 30s and, not coincidentally, was also the basis for many of the motivational and propaganda posters used by the Soviet Union.

Some users on the internet were quick to draw parallels on how this poster showed modern day Russia as a reflection of the Soviet Union.

“This reminds me of an old Soviet propaganda poster. Huh?” said Twitter user Simone, who had the online title of @VrtInsanity.

“Even more saddening is the poor photo-shopping done in an attempt to merge a football with the globe,” said graphic designer Wale Dan Ogundein. “So disgracing. Also, the placement of the text ‘2018’ feels like it was just dumped there. But in terms of alignment and visual balance, I'll give the work a nod.

“Granted, they wanted to do a 1920s-style post-constructivist design — which is absolutely cool,” he added. “But that is no excuse for this poor execution. They could have done better than this and still achieve the same simplicity and retro feel.”

Alabama-based @Goalline_Stand was one of many US-based accounts to criticise the poster.

“This is a very bland poster for this to be the official #WorldCup poster for Russia 2018,” they tweeted. “No vivid colours or pageantry for a beautiful game and most important sports event on the planet. The Russian marketing department must not understand how to sell/promote this event in style.”

Another user, appropriately named @americanina, also slammed the poster.

“Typical — Russia wants its old glory days,” she moaned. “It doesn't look forward, it looks back. It wants the power it no longer has. This isn't retro, this is like an old lady putting on her fur and lipstick dancing to music she only hears.”

Others, though, were in favour of the poster.

Liverpool’s Belgian international goalkeeper Simon Mignolet — who is likely to play some part at Russia 2018, was one of those happy with the design.

“About time a goalkeeper became the central figure. #GKunion,” he tweeted.

“It’s called constructivism and constructivism was popular in early Soviet days,” explained Alina Ahmetshina. “And yes it does remind (me of) old Soviet propaganda posters, those were sick!

“It’s not old, it’s retro if you want!” she railed. “I don’t see people complaining that music nowadays sound like (it is) from the 90s. The poster is cool. It’s my professional and important opinion. Case closed.”

Artist Markus Jasker added, “Seems as for you this means ‘meets my taste’. Adding just vivid colours is not design. It is what people with lack of knowledge would do. There is no design in the world that meets everybody's taste. Have a look into historical context. May help you understand.”

Lev Yashin represented the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics (USSR) at four World Cups — 1958, 1962, 1966 and 1970. Known for his cat-like reflexes and his trademark all-black uniform, he remains the only goalkeeper in the history of football to win the Ballon d’Or, the annual award given to the best performing footballer during the previous year.

In addition, the award for best goalkeeper at a FIFA World Cup is now called the Lev Yashin Award.

“It was very important for us to portray Russia as the host country in the official poster,” said Vitaly Mutko, Chairman of the Russia 2018 Local Organising Committee. “That’s why we chose Lev Yashin, a symbol of Russian football, as the main figure. I’m sure that the poster will become one of the most memorable symbols of the 2018 FIFA World Cup Russia and that fans and participants alike will approve of it.”

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