(Persia Digest) - Amanda Christovich writes in USA Today Sports that Kylian Mbappe of France had a busy evening in Russia.
He became only the second teenager to score a goal in a World Cup final, won the World Cup, won Best Young Player, and then donated his 2018 FIFA World Cup salary to charity. But much of the social media attention Mbappe gained Sunday was for different on-field action entirely.
During the 52nd minute of the game, three females and one male ran onto the pitch dressed in police uniforms, bringing the game (2-1 France at the time) to a crashing halt. Though television network Fox Sports was quick to turn cameras from the rogue fans, a photo later surfaced on social media of Mbappe high-fiving one of the women -- who was later identified as a member of the Russian feminist punk rock protest group Pussy Riot.
The image served as a reminder of the seemingly inextricable link between politics and pitch this past month in Russia. One Twitter user called the photo of Mbappe and the protestor "the most iconic image of the World Cup."
Pussy Riot released a statement shortly after the incident on Facebook explaining that its invasion of the field was in protest of Russian police actions, such as "illegal arrests on rallies" and "fabricating criminal accusations" to keep people in jail "for no reason."
he statement also lamented that Russian law enforcement failed to live up to the "image of a policeman, a carrier of the heavenly nationhood," that they claimed late Russian poet Dmitriy Prigov wrote about.
"The FIFA World Cup has reminded us of the possibilities of the heavenly policeman in the Great Russia of the future, but the earthly policeman, entering the ruleless game breaks our world apart," the statement read.
Despite Mbappe's seemingly positive interaction with the Pussy Riot protester, other players such as Croatian defender Dejan Lovren were not as pleased.
"I really was mad because we'd been playing at that moment in good shape," Lovren told the Associated Press. "We'd been playing good football and then some interruption came. I just lost my head and I grabbed the guy and I wished I could throw him away from the stadium."
Pussy Riot, which often dons brightly colored balaclavas and some of whose members have served prison sentences for performing songs criticizing Vladimir Putin, was then detained and interrogated by Russian police.
The group was charged with "violation of spectators' rights and illegal wearing of law enforcement symbols," crimes that could warrant penalties of up to 11,500 rubles ($185) or 160 hours of community service, according to the Interfax news agency and AP.
A video of the Russian interrogation showed one Pussy Riot member, identified as Pyotr Verzilov by the independent TV channel Dozhd, telling the policemen, "I am for Russia, just like you -- if you are for Russia."
One man not in the camera's view stated that he sometimes wishes it was 1937.
The man could have been referring to Josef Stalin's Great Purge, which imprisoned and massacred millions of Russians who Stalin's government deemed "enemies of the state."
This World Cup has hardly evaded political demonstration and controversy. Protesters even included the players themselves, such as World Cup runner-up Domagoj Vida, who suggested solidarity with Ukrainian ultra-nationalists following Croatia's victory over Russia. Even accusations of cheating within Russia's soccer ranks surfaced when the host nation demonstrated surprising prowess during the tournament.
FIFA did not respond to the AP for comment.