Make them feel at home, Putin tells Russia

Amol Gokhale
Monday, 11 June 2018

On Friday, Russian President Vladimir Putin welcomed the teams and supporters arriving in Russia and urged his people to make fans across the globe ‘feel at home’. He assured that Russia will offer them a thrilling World Cup.

MOSCOW: It is just three days before the kick off of the 2018 FIFA World Cup and the footballing fever is gripping the vast nation that is hosting the FIFA’s showpiece event for the first time in 88 years since first was held in Uruguay.

It is not just the players, but the flights full off fans are descending down on Russia to witness the action as biggest names in the World football put on their national colours in sporting extravaganza.

On Friday, Russian President Vladimir Putin welcomed the teams and supporters arriving in Russia and urged his people to make fans across the globe ‘feel at home’. He assured that Russia will offer them a thrilling World Cup.

On Sunday, teams such as Uruguay, France, Australia, Peru, Egypt landed here in Moscow for the final leg of preparations before the tournament commences on Thursday.

Meanwhile, on Saturday, teams led by two of the sports biggest names, Cristiano Ronaldo’s Portugal and Lionel Messi’s Argentina touched down, while Neymar-led Brazil is scheduled to land in Sochi on Monday along with the teams like Croatia, Denmark, Mexico and Nigeria.

Moscow, the biggest host city of the World Cup, for obvious reasons is the centre of all the action with the maximum number of matches scheduled to be played at the Luzhniki Stadium and Spartak Stadium in the city.

Out of 32 participating teams, 13 teams have chosen their Team Base Camps (TBC) in and around the Moscow region as that provides teams with best possible options to travel to other parts of Russia.

The hosts themselves have their base camp in Moscow at the Federal Sports Centre, which they will share with Mexico. On Saturday, some 9000 fans attended the public training session of the Russian national team at the Spartak Stadium.

The defending champions, Germany, whose 2014 World Cup’s base camp in Santo Andres in Brazil garnered praise from fans, too will be staying in Moscow region, 30-odd-kms from the main Luzhniki Stadium.

The likes of Argentina, France, Portugal, Peru, Belgium, Tunisia too have opted to stay in the Moscow region owing to the fact that city is connected to the rest of the World by three airports.

The efforts by Russia are visibly seen in the capital city of Moscow as FIFA volunteers are ready to offer a helping hand right from the moment fans get down at the airports.

Their task will be cut out when the actual tournament begins but at the moment, Russia is ready, to welcome the footballing world with open arms.

- The Brazilian 2002 World  Cup winner Roberto Carlos and more than 150 guests celebrated the opening ceremony of the “FIFA World Football Museum presented in Moscow.
- The special exhibition for FIFA World Cup Russia at the Hyundai Motorstudio on New Arbat Avenue in Moscow celebrates the tournament through the passion and devotion of the fans and tells the event’s history through the players who have left an indelible mark on it in the past.
- The museum is now open to the public for 42 days until 20 July 2018, and the entry is free.
- The exhibition will feature selected world football heritage objects from the FIFA World Football Museum including objects belonging to players like Pele, Diego Maradona, Lev Yashin, Lionel Messi and Cristiano Ronaldo, along with 64 Adidas Telstar Official Match Balls used for the kick-off of every game at Russia 2018.

- Regardless of the fact that Lionel Messi was in spotlight last week for an unwanted reason following Argentina’s friendly against Israel in Jerusalem, which was later cancelled, he still remains the biggest superstar of the game.
- With his arms crossed and a face bursting with pride, Messi towers above all those on the main street of Bronnitsy, a town of 20,000 residents some 50-km from Moscow.
- “When I was painting Messi, I was painting a legend of my time,” says Sergey Erofeev, the artist responsible for the huge mural of Messi located on a wall just a short walk from Argentina’s World Cup team base.
- Eager to show his masterpiece to curious passers-by, he explained how he won a competition to earn the honour of producing a work to commemorate the five-time world player of the year.
- No wonder he would like Messi to come and see the painting at some stage during the tournament that begins on June 14.

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