Mustaches, silly songs defuse tensions at Russia’s World Cup

MOSCOW (AP) Russia’s national soccer team is so bad that even the ruthless leader of Chechnya couldn’t coach it to victory – at least according to a satirical song buzzing around Russian social networks ahead of the World Cup.

Russians are turning to parody to defuse tensions around the event, which kicks off Thursday in Moscow with much at stake for President Vladimir Putin and his proud nation.

The favored target is mustachioed Russian coach Stanislav Cherchesov. A tongue-in-cheek online campaign appeals to Russians to post images of themselves wearing mustaches as a show of support.

A clip by singer Semyon Slepakov imagines replacing the coach with Chechen leader Ramzan Kadyrov, but predicts even he would be overwhelmed by the task.

The parodies conceal a deep-down hope that the Cup is success – and a fear that something could go wrong.