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Football stars at Russian Embassy in London predict 'fabulous' FIFA World Cup (VIDEO)

Football stars at Russian Embassy in London predict 'fabulous' FIFA World Cup (VIDEO)
International football players and managers gathered at the Russian Embassy in London on Tuesday to hear about preparations for next year’s FIFA World Cup. The competition’s official football, a Telstar with a first-of-its-kind technological chip inside, was also on display.

Russia’s ambassador to Britain, Alexander Yakovenko, told guests a lot of work has been put in by the Russian hosts to prepare for the event. “[Fans] will not only see the world’s leading football players up close, but will also get acquainted with Russian culture, history and Russia’s unique nature, and experience our traditional hospitality and openness,” he said.

Players were also complimentary of the preparations under way. Jermaine Jenas, a former player, told RT he believes Russia is ready for such a huge tournament.

“I think the infrastructure that they have within the country and the way that they have run previous tournaments has gone very well,” Jenas said. “People were initially very skeptical of the tournament being held there, but I am a believer that they have done things the right way, and things are looking good – the facilities, the stadiums. Obviously logistically it can be difficult, because it is such a huge country, but I’m still very confident.”

Bobby Barnes, a former player and now deputy chief executive of the Professional Football Association (PFA), said it looks like Russia is putting strong measures in place to combat any hooliganism or racism.

“I think always when you approach a World Cup, people are worried whether things will be on time, are the venues going to be ready - but it looks like the organizing committee are on top of things, and the way that they are talking about the success of the Confederations Cup last summer, and the test events that they’ve got planned for May, it looks like, come June, everything will be ready to go.”

READ MORE: Russia will do everything it can to make World Cup 2018 a grandiose sports festival - Putin

Former player Sol Campbell said the competition is an opportunity for Russia to showcase itself to the world. “Millions of people will be watching the games and tens of thousands of people will be moving around the country, following their individual countries. I think they understand the world’s [attention] is on them and I am sure they will do everything in their powers to make sure it runs smoothly.”

David Dein, an England Premier League ambassador, told RT about his visit to Russia for the Confederations Cup in June. “I have to say I was very, very impressed. Everything went very smoothly, everyone was very warm and accommodating, I had a wonderful time.”

Graeme Souness, a retired player and manager, said he’s looking forward to seeing a good competition. “Purely in football terms, we’ve got Ronaldo and Messi going there. They have been the outstanding players for the last decade and I hope both of them go there and royally entertain us,” he said. “So, I’m sure it will be a fabulous competition.”

Last month, footballing icon Lionel Messi led a delegation of world football superstars who descended on Moscow to launch the Adidas Telstar football for next year’s tournament. Telstar 18 aims to “evoke unforgettable memories of the 1970 FIFA World Cup” and pays homage to the first-ever World Cup ball - named “Telstar” due to its status as the “star of television.”

The original was the first World Cup ball to be decorated with black panels, which allowed it to stand out on black-and-white television broadcasts. The new ball facilitates high technology and comes with an embedded NFC chip, which Adidas says enables consumers to interact with the ball using a smartphone.

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