• #RivalHug campaign connected fans during the World Cup
  • 9,357 submissions were made, reaching 152.5 million people worldwide
  • Six winners were chosen for an exclusive trip to the World Cup Final in Moscow

No other sporting event on earth connects fans of all races, genders, age groups and nationalities like the FIFA World Cup™. That was especially the case during the 2018 FIFA World Cup Russia™, as our omni-channel fan campaign #RivalHug united football supporters around the globe.

During football’s showpiece event, fans captured their personal moments with another fan from a rival team and shared it with the #RivalHug campaign on their social media feeds. A total of 9,357 submissions reached 152.5 million fans worldwide, with the #RivalHug hashtag used 26,240 times. There was also a Hug Counter booth at the FIFA Fan Fest™ in Moscow, where a total of 14,005 fans took pictures and received a #RivalHug branded photo printout.

The popularity of the #RivalHug campaign drew attention from various international media outlets, with the most shared story coming from six-year-old Poland fan Aleks Meiklejohn on Twitter, who was consoled by his Colombia counterparts after the South American side’s 3-0 victory over the Poles in the group stage on 24 June.

Accompanied by his father Iain, the Scottish youngster was one of six #RivalHug submission winners that brought a guest on an exclusive trip to the World Cup Final between France and Croatia. They were joined by fellow winners Keke Pu and her boyfriend from China PR, Qatar-based Mexico fan Yezenia Navarro and her son Alan, Russian football fans Polina Anufrieva and Mikhail Samsonov, as well as Argentina fan Mauro Martinez Beloqui, who drew notable attention for swapping numerous Albiceleste and Lionel Messi jerseys with rival fans and sharing those exchanges on Instagram.

Witnessing the Final at Moscow’s Luzhniki Stadium on 15 July proved an unforgettable experience for our campaign winners. “I am very grateful to FIFA for this opportunity, a dream come true,” said Navarro. “I also appreciate the opportunity to have met the other winners of #RivalHug and other contests, because now I can say that I have friends in more parts of the world united by the passion of the World Cup.”

“I have to agree entirely with what Yezenia has said – both me and Aleks had the most amazing time in Moscow for the World Cup Final,” said Iain Meiklejohn. “We still can’t believe we were actually there, at the match. And what a match – six goals! And, of course, the people we met really made the trip even better! Natalie, Jennifer, Ernesto, Yezenia, Alan, Mauro, Mike, Diana, Maya and Anita – it would be absolutely amazing if we could all meet up in Qatar 2022.”


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