2018 has arrived, which means it's finally World Cup year, which also means the Russians have to begin their conveyor belt of excuses leading up to a tournament that could very well be a complete disaster. And they're starting with locusts. Yup, locusts.
We've had endless worries regarding the upcoming World Cup this summer, from stands being built outside of stadiums to racism - 2018's hottest footballing event has not come without controversy.
But now that the official groups have been announced, and everyone and their mums yearns for June 14 when the hosts kick the campaign off against Saudi Arabia; the big gun excuses have started to roll out.
According to Pyotr Chekmaryov (the person who oversees Russia's plant protection at the agriculture ministry), the country is under threat from locusts - who may well destroy the various football pitches around the country ahead of the World Cup.
“We have more or less learned how to deal with locusts, but this year I’m afraid we could end up in an international locust scandal,” Chekmaryov has claimed, via AP News.
“Soccer fields are green. Locusts like places where there is a lot of green. What if they fly to the places where football is played?”
The Russian government accept that this is very much their responsibility to deal with, and are determined not to “disgrace ourselves in front of global society, especially where we will have guests from all over the world.”
...Because locusts are definitely the biggest worry ahead of a World Cup being played in a country led by a tyrant, with hooligan fans feared for their extreme violence.
But sure, let's focus on the insects - and avoid becoming too political.