Russian President Vladimir Putin has expressed hope that the 2018 football World Cup will be held at the top level.
“We hope that the championship we are preparing will be held at the highest level,” Putin said at a meeting with world football’s governing body Fédération Internationale de Football Association (FIFA) president Gianni Infantino on Wednesday.
He said Russia will use preparation for the 2018 World Cup to improve relations with participant countries.
“For us, the holding of the FIFA World Cup also has an internal dimension. We hope to use the preparation for the holding of the World Cup for improvement of relations with countries that take part in that event,” Putin said.
The Russian president congratulated Infantino on election to the FIFA president’s post.
Putin recalled that Russia has a great experience in organising the largest international competitions, and said “all this will be used now as well.”
The World Cup matches will take place from June 14 to July 15 at 12 stadiums in 11 Russian cities: Moscow, St. Petersburg, Kazan, Nizhny Novgorod, Saransk, Kaliningrad, Volgograd, Yekaterinburg, Samara, Sochi and Rostov-on-Don.
Earlier newly elected FIFA President Gianni Infantino said that he had received assurances from the Russian government that the economic crisis convulsing Russia would not affect preparations for the 2018 soccer World Cup.
Russia, which faces a second straight year of recession after its gross domestic product fell 3.7 percent last year due to lower global oil prices and Western sanctions, plans to cut state spending by 10 percent on average in 2016.
(With inputs from IANS)