Russian President Vladimir Putin says that the legacy of the upcoming FIFA 2018 World Cup, which begins in Moscow on July 14, is one of the biggest goals for the tournament’s host cities.
In the first hour of his annual Direct Line Q&A in Moscow on Thursday, Putin faced a question from former national team player and manager Valery Gazzaev, given live from Moscow’s Luzhniki Stadium, which will host the Russia 2018 opening match on June 14 when hosts Russia take on Saudi Arabia.
After wishing the Russian president good health, Gazzaev asked: “The whole football community understands you are overwhelmed with work, but we ask you to play your attention to football.
“You are victorious in terms of spirit and thank you for giving us the opportunity to hold the World Cup, we have all the necessary infrastructure which will facilitate our work. I’d like to ask you to pay attention to football."
In his response, Putin admitted that Russia had disappointed in recent results, but expressed hope that the team could make their fans proud at the tournament.
“From what I understand we are talking about legacy the 2018 World Cup what are we going to do with all that big infrastructure perhaps you’re right,” he said. “We managed to resolve one of biggest challenges that other countries have not been able to do - host Olympic Games - take the infrastructure in Sochi for example, which is still in use.
“We spent a lot of money and I agree - needs to work to the benefit of sport. There it should be youth teams youth leagues , these venues whose upgrade on the basis of self-financing and again these stadiums - it is not just a pitch - you have many facilities inside the center which you can have - malls, restaurants cafes, not just sports clubs, and designated space where people can do sports.
“The Local Organizing Committee (LOC 2018) will hand over to the Russian regions and I would like to address these governors: we should not allow to have any open air markets or bazaars out there that we had in 1990s - this in unacceptable - must be used in the purpose that they were designed - so that we have interesting matches in there,” he concluded.
In an interview last month ahead of a trip to China, Putin named his favorites to win football’s biggest prize. The Russian president outlined Argentina, Brazil, Spain and Germany as his top picks to lift the trophy in Moscow on July 15.
The 2018 World Cup begins in Moscow on June 14 when host nation Russia take on Saudi Arabia at the newly-renovated Luzhniki Stadium.