Russian women and visiting football fans have been urged to be fruitful and multiply at the World Cup.
After one legislator caused a backlash on social media by advising Russian women against getting involved with foreign fans, one of her colleagues is urging love and procreation during the tournament.
“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,” parliament member Mikhail Degtyaryov said.
Mr Degtyaryov appeared to be doing damage control after Tamara Pletnyova warned Russian women to think twice before entering into casual relationships with foreign tourists because they may end up rearing their children alone.
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 are unhappy.
The comments prompted criticism on social media, with some saying Ms Pletnyova’s views were racist and archaic.
Mr Degtyaryov, who heads a parliamentary committee overseeing sports, promoted a totally opposite view.
“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 colors, all religions, all genders and all (sexual) orientations.”
The Kremlin weighed in reluctantly on the controversy.
Asked about Ms Pletnyova’s comments, President Vladimir Putin’s spokesman, Dmitry Peskov, told reporters the Kremlin has nothing to do with the matter.
“As for our Russian women, they will make their own judgment,” 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.