Dear ladies and gentlemen, Ms. General Secretary, distinguished guests!
Just like in the rest of the world, football is the most popular sport in Russia. More than half of 140 million Russians are football fans or at least follow the sport occasionally. And thus we are deeply honored to be chosen host country of 2018 World Cup.
Football came to Russia at the dawn of the 20th century and spread quickly throughout the country. By the early 1930s, almost every city had one or several professional clubs. Russian football has deep-rooted traditions, bright history of victories and a number of outstanding players. Soviet Union national team won two Olympic golds — in Melbourne in 1956 and in Seoul in 1988. In 1960 Soviet football squad won the inaugural UEFA European Championship and finished second three times (64, 72, 88). Three Soviet football players were awarded the “Golden ball”, among them legendary Lev Yashin (63), also nicknamed “Black Spider”, who was the first and only goalkeeper in history to get the “Golden Ball”. Football is more than a game. For the host countries, the World Cup is a chance to showcase its national achievements. The championship is an excellent incentive for renovation as preparations require constructing stadiums and boosting tourism, improving transportation and hospitality infrastructure, establishing various social programmes.
Russia is a country of rich athletic tradition and has plenty of experience in organizing prestigious international tournaments. In 2008, Moscow hosted the final of the Champions League when Manchester United played Chelsea at Luzhniki Stadium. In 2013 Kazan hosted a global competition of university students. In 2014, Sochi was home to the Winter Olympics and F1 Grand Prix. All of these events unite Russians, allowing them to be proud of their country not only for its athletic achievements, but also for the quality of the organised events.
As we get ready for the World Cup, all of the preparation projects envision a football fan as the central figure of all activities. We set goal to ensure that every guest will feel safe and comfortable and enjoy his stay in Russia. For example, all visa requirement will be waived for game-ticket holders. Fans will be provided with free transfers to the stadiums and well-organised fan zones where everyone will be able to watch game broadcasts for free.
Russia is a place to make many discoveries. FIFA World Cup 2018 will be held in 11 Russian cities, which are also Russia’s top tourist destinations. Each year historical, natural, architectural and cultural landmarks together with improving transport and hospitality infrastructure are attracting more and more visitors to our country. Thus, football fans coming to cheer for their national teams will also be able to explore amazing Russia.
Another important thing concerning Confederation Cup 2017 and World Cup 2018 is that for the first time we will have single supplier for all broadcasting services and facilities. I`m talking about Russian television company MatchTV. This one-window approach will help to streamline all the inquiries from the broadcasting companies all over the world and provide them with top-level professional services according to the highest international standards.
Living here in China we all witness interest in football that has been growing exponentially lately. Partly it is due to massive support of the government. Indeed, Chinese football industry has been developing rapidly with clubs hiring world top coaching teams and players, more youth football clubs being established, and, of course, more people watching games, following Chinese and international leagues.
Given the unprecedented level of Russia-China relations of strategic partnership and traditional friendship between the two nations, we welcome thousands of Chinese football-lovers to come to Russia and become part of this immense football fest.
In the end, I would like to add, that the World Cup is a major challenge for our country, as we set very high goals and are eager to achieve every one of them. I have no doubt that this massive project will unite all nations around the globe and Russia will host one of the most exciting World Cups in the history of football.
Thank you for your attention! And now we are pleased to present you a small promo-video of 2018World Cup in Russia.