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Russia sprays vanilla to repel World Cup gnats in Volgograd

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VOLGOGRAD, Russia (Reuters) - Russian authorities said on Thursday they were spraying the area outside the World Cup stadium with vanilla concentrate to prevent gnats from spoiling soccer matches there, TASS news agency reported.

England and Tunisia players could be seen swatting away swarms of gnats during their opening World Cup game in the southern Russian city on Monday.

Players covered themselves with bug spray before the game and at halftime, but that seemed to have little effect.

Russian authorities said on Thursday they hope that spraying the vanilla concentrate on trees and shrubs around the venue will keep the gnats away.

“The vanilla concentrate will not create inconveniences for fans, but it will be enough to repel the gnats,” TASS quoted Volgograd’s regional administration as saying.

The area around Volgograd is known for its swamps and wide rivers, the perfect breeding ground for insects during the hot and dry summer in the region.

It was unclear if the measures had already been taken, but a Reuters reporter in Volgograd said on Thursday there appeared to be significantly fewer gnats in the city than during Monday’s match.

Volgograd, which is set to host three more group stage matches, will host Iceland’s match against Nigeria on Friday.

Reporting by Gabrielle Tétrault-Farber and William Schomberg; Editing by Ian Chadband