Vladimir Putin has thanked the “world football family” for its help in organizing the 2018 FIFA World Cup. The much-awaited tournament kicks off June 14 when Russia takes on Saudi Arabia in Moscow’s iconic Luzhniki Stadium.
“Preparation for such a large-scale and bright sporting event is not only the task of the host country. [Such an event is] impossible without a huge number of specialists and enthusiasts of the entire world football family,” the President said. The Russian leader joined the 68th FIFA Congress on the eve of the tournament.
And it’s great that this family has “a wonderful tradition” of gathering on the eve of the championship in the city where the opening match is to take place, Putin added. “Our country is ready to host the FIFA World Cup, and provide everyone who will come to Russia with maximum comfort and the best emotions possible,” he said.
Putin also thanked FIFA for keeping politics out of sport. “I wanted to underline FIFA’s commitment to the principle of sports without politics,” he said. The Russian leader addressed special words of gratitude to FIFA president Gianni Infantino for his “adherence to the sporting ideals and his fairness, and of course his unfailingly positive sentiment toward our country.”
Putin stressed that Infantino “took charge of FIFA at troubled times” but he was steering FIFA properly “like a true fighter.”
The World Cup kicks off in Moscow on Thursday. A total of 64 games will be played at 12 stadiums across 11 host cities, with the final being played at the newly-renovated Luzhniki Stadium on July 15.
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