06 June 2018
More than a trophy at stake in the FIFA World Cup
FIFA World Cup
Though President Vladimir Putin’s real love is ice hockey rather than football, he will no doubt make sure he is firmly in the limelight from the moment 500 dancers, gymnasts and trampolinists celebrate all things Russian in the opening extravaganza at Moscow’s Luzhniki Stadium, two hours before the (unfancied) Russian team kicks off the opening game against (equally unfancied) Saudi Arabia.
It is first time that Russia – or any Eastern European country – has hosted the tournament. It remains to be seen how far Mr Putin tries to use it to reconcile Russia with the world; two years ago at the European championship finals nationalist Russian fans went on the rampage in Marseilles, clashing violently with English fans.
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