President Infantino, members of the FIFA Council, heads of the world’s football associations, ladies and gentlemen, The countdown for a glorious football event, which all fans are looking forward to, has begun. This moment brings to mind the beginning of a long, complicated and highly responsible path to the FIFA championships, which we have covered together as one big team. The host country is not the only one responsible for preparing this large-scale sports festival. This goal would not have been attained without the contribution made by a huge number of specialists and enthusiasts of the global football family. This close group has a wonderful tradition, which is to gather before the tournament in the city where the opening match will be held. It is a wonderful opportunity for Russia as the host country to express our gratitude to all of you and to your colleagues for the support you have provided in word as well as in deed over a period of the past seven years, during which Russia was preparing for this, one of the most popular and important sports events in the world. We worked together to hold the main football event at the top level and to make it an unforgettable moment in the life of everyone who participates in it, whether as football players, devoted fans or as the television audience. Special thanks go to Mr Gianni Infantino for his commitment to the ideals of sports and justice, as well as for his invariably positive attitude to our country. We know that Mr Infantino took over the helm at FIFA at a difficult time, but he has been steering the course firmly as a true captain. The FIFA World Cup is very important for our country. Many generations of football fans dreamed to bring together the world’s best teams. Tomorrow, their dream will come true. There are 12 first-class stadiums and modern infrastructure. But what is most important is that a huge number of devoted football fans from all over the world will come to Russia and share the joy of being involved in this exciting and vibrant sports event. The 68th FIFA Congress has brought together in Moscow the delegates of all 211 national football associations and six continental confederations. The whole football world. I would like to emphasise the adherence of the International Football Federation to the principle “sports and politics do not mix.”
Russia has always adhered to this principle and strives to closely communicate with everyone who intends to develop and strengthen the constructive nature of sports and its unlimited humanistic potential. Russia has always adhered to this principle and strives to closely communicate with everyone who intends to develop and strengthen the constructive nature of sports and its unlimited humanistic potential. Such large international forums as the World Cup are not only about a spectacle and thrill, but are also a good opportunity for millions of people to learn about other countries and their traditions as well as to make new friends. They can learn that in other countries there are also kind, enthusiastic and open minded people who want to live in peace, communicate, visit each other and watch and play football together. Our country is ready to host the 2018 FIFA World Cup and to provide everyone visiting Russia with a comfortable environment and positive emotions. Our goal is to make all guests – from football stars to football fans – feel our hospitality and friendliness, learn about our original, multinational culture and the unique Russian nature, and make them want to come back again. Let me wish the delegates every success in their work. We are expecting all of you tomorrow at the opening match of the 21st FIFA World Cup. We are sincerely happy to see all of you. Welcome to Russia!