Like thousands of other Africans, Lamin came to Russia during the 2018 tournament on a “Fan ID” that allowed spectators to bypass the country’s usual visa requirements.While most came purely to watch the football, others had plans to stay on and find work.Some believed they could claim asylum in Russia or that the country would be a stepping-stone to life in Europe.But eight months after the World Cup, their hopes have been dashed and the Russian interior ministry has said it is stepping up measures to deport all over-staying guests by the end of March.– Little hope of asylum –Like thousands of other Africans, Lamin came to Russia during last year’s World Cup on a special temporary visa for fans, which he overstayed © AFP / Mladen ANTONOVLamin, an assumed name, said he needed to flee a family conflict in The Gambia because his life was in danger.A church friend told him Russia would be easy to enter during the period it was hosting the football tournament.Even so, it wasn’t easy when he arrived.“I was confused, I had no place to stay, the situation was tough,” he said.The former management student was eventually helped by a Liberian immigrant who shared food and offered a space in the apartment.But during a raid in February, police found the Liberian had no valid documents and he was deported.“I don’t know what I’m going to do next, I’m totally scared,” said Lamin, who has been given temporary leave to stay until the middle of March.With the help of the Civic Assistance Committee, an organisation that works with refugees in Russia, he has put in an application for permanent asylum.There is little hope, however, of it being granted. Official figures show that in 2017, Russia gave full refugee status to just 33 people.– Wave of arrivals –Lamin, a 23-year old Gambian, is one of some 12,000 people who stayed on in Russia illegally after his fan visa for the World Cup expired © AFP / Mladen ANTONOVThe “Fan IDs” were originally valid just for the period of the World Cup, but President Vladimir Putin later announced they could be used for re-entry until the end of 2018.Last month, interior ministry official Andrei Krayushkin said 12,000 people had stayed on illegally after the end of the year.But efforts by the security services had so far reduced that number to 5,500, he told a press conference.Daniel, who has worked with African migrants in Moscow for 10 years but did not want to give his last name nor where he works for fear of repercussions, said the World Cup had brought the biggest wave of arrivals he had ever seen.“When they get here, they’re stuck. They don’t want to go back, they can’t go forward,” he told AFP.“Most don’t speak Russian, and without Russian, the chances are very small of finding a job.”One such immigrant is Solomon, who came during the World Cup to watch Nigeria play — his home side. He already had plans to stay on after the tournament.At first, the 31-year-old found work as a gardener but is now unemployed.“In Nigeria, there is no job, no good politics, no good life,” the engineering graduate said.“I just want to stay here for a little time, so that I am able to work, get some money and go to another place.”He is “very worried” about the interior ministry’s March deadline, but says he has no plans to leave of his own accord.– Trafficking victims –Rights groups say that most African migrants don’t speak Russian, and without that, they stand very little chance of finding work © AFP / Mladen ANTONOVA few in extreme circumstances have been granted leave to stay beyond March.Victoria came from Nigeria on a World Cup ticket with plans to study in Russia, but on arrival, the 22-year-old discovered she had been trafficked into prostitution.A woman came to meet her at the airport, took her back to a flat and told her to take off her clothes.“She took my passport and my Fan ID,” Victoria said.After being forced to work as a street prostitute, Victoria got in touch with the anti-trafficking NGO Alternativa and managed to escape.The organisation has helped her obtain permission to remain until the summer, and she has found some work in a shoe repair shop.“I want to stay in Russia,” she told AFP at the NGO’s central Moscow office.“Not to stay permanently — I just want to have some money, so that at least when I go back to Nigeria I can start a business.”But others who were trafficked, like 20-year-old Progress, remain in a state of limbo.Alternativa is preparing an application for an extension so that “maybe I can stay in Russia,” said the young Nigerian woman, who was also forced into prostitution.“A lot of the girls who came with me are still working. They are too scared to leave.”0Shares0000(Visited 1 times, 1 visits today) 0Shares0000Only 33 people won full refugee status in Russia in 2017 © AFP / Mladen ANTONOVMOSCOW, Russian Federation, Mar 6 – In a cramped apartment on the outskirts of Moscow, Lamin has little more than the clothes and the Bible he brought with him when he came to Russia on a temporary World Cup visa last summer.The 23-year-old Gambian shares the two-bedroom flat with nine other people — the youngest a newborn baby girl, the daughter of a Congolese flatmate.
The 5: Takeaways from the Coyotes’ introduction of Alex Meruelo TEMPE, Ariz. — Heading into the 2017 season, few Cardinals will be under as bright a spotlight as Robert Nkemdiche.The team’s first-round pick in the 2016 NFL Draft, he appeared in just five games as a rookie, collecting three tackles and one pass defensed.While disappointing, an ankle injury he suffered in training camp set him back, and he struggled to crack a deep defensive line rotation once the games started. His inability to get on the field had many questioning his work ethic, which at times was even brought up as a concern by his coaches. Ultimately, however, by the end of the season they said he had matured and still expect great things from the former No. 29 pick.They are not the only ones.“Of course,” Nkemdiche answered when asked if he notices himself improving.The 22-year-old was at Steak 44 in support of the Arians Family Foundation Fundraiser, and he said his goal is to keep growing.“The sky’s the limit for me and I know what I can do as a player and I want to keep that edge on me and keep it going day-by-day,” he said.Whereas last season the Cardinals may not have needed much from Nkemdiche, things are different now. With Calais Campbell in Jacksonville, there is now a hole on the team’s defensive front.Knowing that, Nkemdiche is aware how big this upcoming season is for him, even though it is only his second in the NFL.According to Cardinals coach Bruce Arians, the expectation of Nkemdiche is to play a bunch and play well.“He’s playing extremely well,” he said after Wednesday’s OTA practice. “He jumped offsides twice today, but that’s probably the first time. “He’s been playing extremely well and (we want him to) be the player we drafted, which he is. He is.”Asked if Nkemdiche could replace Campbell, Arians said, “Oh hell yeah.”Paying attention to details is the biggest difference, Nkemdiche said, adding that the biggest difference between his rookie year and now is that he truly gets what he must do in order to succeed. No one will know what kind of progress he has made until training camp and then when games begin, but for now Nkemdiche seems to be on the right track.If nothing else, he understands where his career is at.“I’ve got to prove to the coaches as much as I have to prove to myself,” he said.And what’s that, exactly?“What kind of player I can be, what I know I can be, what I’m supposed to be.”Less time in OTLast season the Cardinals were part of one of two ties the NFL produced, and no doubt their 6-6 bout with the Seattle Seahawks at least played a part in the league’s decision to shorten overtime from 15 minutes to 10.While evidence points to it likely leading to more games without a victor, Arians has no issue with the change.“I think it will effect the calling of the game a little bit,” he said. “People are worried about 10-minute drives — I don’t know if I’ve ever seen a 10-minute drive.” Dobson is a part of that, and while he knows he’s been playing well, he said he’s just trying to take things one day at a time while stringing good days together.“There’s going to be highs and lows, so I’m just trying to keep it more on the high end,” he said. “Just come to play every day, make plays when they come to me and just keep moving forward.”A 25-year-old former second-round pick, Dobson has caught 53 passes for 698 yards and four touchdowns in his career. His best season was his rookie one, when in 2013 he hauled in 37 passes for 519 yards and all of his scores.He is excited to be in Arizona, where he said Arians and GM Steve Keim said he would have an opportunity to play.“That’s all I really can ask for, so now I’m here and I’m just trying to make the most of it.”Dobson understands how deep the team is at receiver, but says all it will do is make each player better. He likes the mix of skill sets, and while at 6-foot-3 and 205 pounds he more or less fits the mold of a “big” receiver, he is confident he can fill whatever role is asked of him.With his roster spot not necessarily a given, he pretty much has to. As he said, every opportunity he has to play in the NFL is a big one. In Arizona, making good on it means continuing to do what he has been. Derrick Hall satisfied with D-backs’ buying and selling DL Robert Nkemdiche chats with Ed Stinson during an OTA practice May 24. (Photo by Adam Green/Arizona Sports) Former Cardinals kicker Phil Dawson retires “Just let them know that I can actually play, make plays when they come to me, learn my playbook and just keep moving forward,” he said.Follow Adam Green on Twitter – / 21 Comments Share Top Stories Grace expects Greinke trade to have emotional impact Arians admitted he has probably seen a couple drives of that length, but added if a team gets the ball run on them for that kind of duration they “deserve to lose anyway.”The coach believes the change has to do with safety, as he noted following the tie vs. Seattle, in which each team ran an obscene number of plays, they were unable to actually practice the following week.Whether the shortened overtime period will lead to more ties, Arians said, is something the league probably understands. And while the game may be called a bit differently because of it, he is happy with the decision.The shortening of overtime is not the only rule change Arians appreciates, as he agrees with the decision to be more lenient on celebrations.“I’m happy with that,” Arians said. “I danced all the time when I scored touchdowns; I didn’t get many, but I danced my ass off when I got one.”And at receiverNot much was made of the Cardinals’ decision to sign receiver Aaron Dobson to a future contract in January, but as May nears its end the former New England Patriot seems to be making quite a name for himself.On Tuesday, Cardinals QB Carson Palmer mentioned how Dobson has “had a great spring,” and on Wednesday Arians said he had never been around a receiver group with as many NFL-caliber players.