MOSCOW: If Russia win Euro 2004 the players will thank their lucky strip – a nude photo-shoot by their wives.
Nine wives and girlfriends undressed for the cameras to encourage their men to win matches at the tournament being hosted by Portugal. Only a strategically placed placard featuring a photo of their partners offered some cover.
Daily newspaper Komsomolskaya Pravda is printing one of the photos on a full page every day hoping they will inspire the players at the tournament starting today.
“The wives have done their part, now it's the men's turn,” said freelance photographer Svetlana Yeriklintseva, who came up with the idea for the pictures when the women told her they wanted to lift the team's spirits after a bad result.
They hatched the plan after Russia hit a low in April, losing to Norway – who did not even make the finals – for the first time in their history. Yeriklintseva said it was time to show some beautiful Russians to the public.
“Our press publishes a lot of pictures of wives but not of (those married to) Russian football players. Most often it's (England captain David's wife) Victoria Beckham,” she said.
“I believe that our girls are considerably more striking and I wanted this to be reflected in the photographs.”
Yeriklintseva said that the women, who have been allowed to travel to Portugal to see their men, needed little persuasion. Some had worked as models and were used to being photographed but for others it was their first time.
The women are pictured in graceful black and white poses, with nothing but their man's picture to protect their modesty.
“They cover up more than a mini-dress,” said Yeriklintseva.
Among those taking part were Russian captain Alexei Smertin's wife Larisa, goalkeeper Sergei Ovchinnikov's wife Inga and defender Vadim Yevseyev's wife Tatyana.
Komsomolskaya Pravda correspondent Svetlana Khrustaleva said that some players were reluctant for their partners to pose. But striker Dmitry Bulykin could barely wait for his girlfriend, Oksana Kuptsova, to strip. – Reuters