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Riga residents hope for Champions League return

Riga residents hope for Champions League return

The high summer heat hit in full force and the temperature in Riga rose by just over 30 degrees. The streets are quiet, and those who go out are hiding in the shade.

Tonight it’s time to get back in the Champions League qualifiers between Malmö FF and Riga FC here.

On the streets of Malmö, people were seen wearing sky blue shirts, bars began to fill up, and MFF flags were waving on city buses.

In Riga, there is no indication that football will be played tonight, and when Kvällposten speaks to people in the city, few are aware of the match.

– Football is not so big here, basketball and ice hockey are even bigger, says 17-year-old Veneta Krause.

Veneta Crouse, 17 years old, and Simona Tihonova, 17 years old

picture: Victoria Bergren

With her friend Simona Tihonova, 17, she sat on a park bench in the shade. They say the interest in this form in the city is football – and those who are interested are the guys.

– Not many girls are watching. Veneta says basketball is bigger and there is interest in girls too.

In May, the Ice Hockey World Cup was held in Riga and when the host country won against Canada, many opened their eyes to the sport.

– Simona says: Everyone suddenly became a fan overnight.

“About a hundred real fans”

But there are those who watch football and follow Riga.

Mareks Korns, 22, lives a little out of town but is here to watch tonight’s game.

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Marex Corns, 22

picture: Victoria Bergren

“There is a small group following the team at every game, but the real fans are probably around 100,” he says.

He saw parts of the first meeting in Malmö and believes that the Riga club’s chances of a good result were gone when the team’s striker, Jonusa Moritala, received a red card already in the first half.

Before returning, it is more optimistic.

– I think maybe Riga will win 1-0 and then I hope they win the penalty shootout, he says and continues.

– But they do not aspire to the Champions League, they aim to play in the Conference League. But of course they will seize the opportunities they get.

Godsfavour Stores, 24,

picture: Victoria Bergren

Saleh Cargo Madoka, 24, is from the UK but has been living in Riga for six years. He has friends on the team and like Marx believes in the team.

– I think they have a good chance. They need to trust each other and their qualities. They shouldn’t be afraid of being vulnerable, he says and admits that interest in tonight’s match is low.

– It’s not that big, but if they had gone that far it would have been big. But no one believes that. He says if they succeed, it will generate more interest of course.