Concluding his first official visit to the Host Nation of the 2018 FIFA World Cup, FIFA President Gianni Infantino met with the President of Russia, Vladimir Putin, to discuss preparations for the World Cup and the FIFA Confederations Cup 2017. During the one-hour meeting, the FIFA President praised the Russian Football Union and Russia’s highest political authorities for their commitment to these two major football events.
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“I have seen the progress Russia made and although I have not yet staged a FIFA World Cup I was involved in the organisation of four European Championships,” President Infantino said. “As such, I know what enormous work is behind the staging of a FIFA World Cup and can judge what I see. I am very pleased with the commitment expressed by every stakeholder, especially Minister Mutko and the Russian government, involved in the preparation for the 2018 FIFA World Cup and next year’s FIFA Confederations Cup.
“What I have seen makes me very confident that we will organise the greatest event in football as the best ever in history. In 2017 and 2018 the world will look at Russia and together as a team we will make sure that all will be great. I also want to express my gratitude for the enthusiasm of the Russian population I witnessed and to the thousands of Russians involved in making the FIFA World Cup happen.”
“The preparations for the FIFA World Cup have highest priority for us, we will do everything to support you,” President Putin said. “We want to use the experience of the FIFA World Cup to foster relations with the participating countries and believe that the FIFA World Cup will be a bridge.”
President Putin also invited the FIFA President to the upcoming launch of the Volunteer programme for the FIFA World Cup at the end of May and announced that he will be present at the Official Draw for the FIFA Confederations Cup in Kazan on 26 November.
“It will be a great honour for me to join the volunteer launch event, as the volunteers’ dedication play an important part in the organisation of the two tournaments and will help show the world Russia’s renowned hospitality and passion for the game,” Infantino explained.
President Infantino began the day by addressing the upper chamber of the Russian parliament, which held a special session devoted to preparations for the FIFA World Cup. Accompanying him on his visit was Vitaly Mutko, the country’s Sports Minister and Chairman of the Russia 2018 Local Organising Committee. Before departing Russia, the FIFA President took the opportunity to visit Moscow’s Spartak Stadium, the city’s second FIFA World Cup venue and also the setting for the FIFA Confederations Cup Russia 2017 in 422 days’ time.
“This is an amazing football stadium, and it is great that Spartak Moscow now has its own home after 90 years,” said President Infantino. “It will do a fantastic job in hosting fans and players alike at both the FIFA World Cup and next year’s FIFA Confederations Cup.”
Prior to the meeting with the Russian President, President Infantino visited the first Deputy Prime Minister, Igor Shuvalov, who is overall in charge of the preparation of the Host Nation for the 2018 FIFA World Cup. The focus of the discussion was the general infrastructure and legacy aspects. Mr Shuvalov reassured the FIFA President that all infrastructure will be prepared in time and that “the FIFA World Cup is not only the most important sports event in the world but also a great opportunity to foster tourism.”
On Wednesday evening, the FIFA President set off for Doha, Qatar for a two-day visit to the Host Country of the 22nd FIFA World Cup.