From Russia With Love is how the saying goes – and one politician is trying to make this a reality at the World Cup.
Member of parliament Mikhail Degtyaryov is urging Russian women and visiting football fans to hook up, fall in love and have children as the tournament kicks off in the country.
His comments come after one of his female colleagues advised Russian women to avoid getting involved with away supporters.
Tamara Pletnyova warned women to think twice before entering into casual relationships with foreign tourists because they may end up bringing up their children alone, should they get pregnant.
Ms Pletnyova, who heads a parliamentary committee on children and families, also suggested Russian women should marry local men and said children born from mixed-raced marriages were unhappy.
The comments prompted criticism on social media, with some users saying Ms Pletnyova’s views were racist and out of date.
But in comments which may be seen as damage control, politician Mikhail Degtyaryov said: “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.
“Many years from now these children will remember that their parents’ love story began during the World Cup in Russia in 2018,” he said, according to the Tass news agency.
“I hope to God that there would be more love stories, more children, more mixed unions.
“We welcome fans from all countries, skin colours, all religions, all genders and all (sexual) orientations.”
The Kremlin weighed in reluctantly on the controversy.
Asked about Ms Pletnyova’s comments, Russia president Vladimir Putin’s spokesman, Dmitry Peskov, said the Kremlin has nothing to do with the matter.
“As for our Russian women, they will make their own judgement,” Mr Peskov said. “They are the best women in the world.”
He noted that spectators attending matches receive special World Cup identification cards that have the phrase “Say no to racism” written on them.
“This is probably the best way to characterise the atmosphere of this holiday and Russia’s approach to it,” Mr Peskov added.