ALL EYES ON RUSSIA
16
/ 27
THE WORLD CUP
IS OURS!

The victorious
Russian delegation
in Zurich, moments
after Russia was named
as 2018 hosts
book will be written one day about how and why Russia was chosen to host the 2018 FIFA World Cup. Who could forget the dramatic finale to the voting process in Zurich on 2 December 2010, when the word "Russia" reverberated around the auditorium after the FIFA Executive Committee
The World Cup acted as a major incentive to overcome the difficulties in Russian football and provided a wonderful opportunity to make a fresh start in terms of infrastructure, as well as to benefit society as whole.

In 2015, the preliminary draw was held in the Konstantin Palace, St Petersburg to determine the paths that national teams would follow in the qualifying competition held by each football confederation. This event may not have been as exciting as the vote in Zurich five years earlier, but it was just as significant and included an unprecedented large-scale cultural programme. Among many others performing on the night were almost all of the St Petersburg ballet, the Mariinsky Theatre Orchestra conducted by Valery Gergiev, and the jazz musician Igor Butman. In total, 350 performers took part, hosted by TV journalist Dmitry Shepelev and supermodel Natalia Vodianova.
The draw also featured celebrities from the world of football, including Ronaldo, Aleksandr Kerzhakov, Oliver Bierhoff, Samuel Eto'o, Rinat Dasayev, Alexey Smertin and many others. The 280 delegates representing FIFA's 209 national associations appreciated both the thorough approach of the Russian Local Organising Committee (LOC) and the capabilities of the host country.
And on 1 December 2017, it got even more exciting when the 32 qualified countries came back for the final draw held in the State Kremlin Palace. It was an event watched right across the globe, thanks to live transmissions by 195 broadcasting companies in 101 countries. International football legends Nikita Simonyan, Laurent Blanc, Gordon Banks, Diego Forlán, Cafu, Fabio Cannavaro, Carles Puyol and Diego Maradona all assisted with the draw, while the honour of co-presenting fell to former England striker Gary Lineker, who played in two World Cups and won the Golden Boot in 1986, and Russian sports journalist Maria Komandnaya.
Russian TV's most famous personality and showman, Ivan Urgant, was also invited to assist them. Guests of honour included veritable football legends such as Pele, Lothar Matthäus, Samuel Eto'o, Ronaldo and Ronaldinho.

Two leaders also took centre stage: Russian President Vladimir Putin and FIFA President Gianni Infantino. The world's media noted that it was the first time that the FIFA President had addressed guests in Russian. It was a sign of great respect and goodwill for the World Cup host country.

As it turned out, the draw brought Russia good luck, but less to Argentina who, despite the participation of Diego Maradona, were handed a tough group. A 3-0 defeat to eventual finalists Croatia in their second game proved to be one of the most painful defeats in the history of the famous Albicelestes.
That, of course, came several months later in a competition of unexpected losses, euphoric victories, tears and joy... Back at the Kremlin Palace, Russian pop stars Larisa Dolina and Alsou performed in turn on stage, while the State Folk Dance Ensemble named after maestro Igor Moiseev danced in blissful oblivion. Renowned bass opera singer Ildar Abdrazakov sang in a high-pitched C, and rock guitarist Nuno Bettencourt gave the audience a virtuoso performance.

The countdown had well and truly begun
GIANNI INFANTINO
and VLADIMIR PUTIN
at the State
Kremlin Palace,
Moscow
THE HEAD COACHES of the national teams pose for the group photo at the final draw
Legendary Soviet footballer NIKITA SIMONYAN pull Poland's name out of the hat
book will be written one day about how and why Russia was chosen to host the 2018 FIFA World Cup. Who could forget the dramatic finale to the voting process in Zurich on 2 December 2010, when the word "Russia" reverberated around the auditorium after the FIFA Executive Committee awarded our country the hosting rights ahead of bids by England, Spain/Portugal and the Netherlands/Belgium.

That's when the story, which was to last for eight long years, began.

However, it is not surprising that Russia, with its huge potential and long-standing football tradition, was among the favourites. The chain of events that would follow proved that the FIFA executives had not only made a far-sighted choice – but also the right one.
THE WORLD CUP IS OURS! The victorious Russian delegation in Zurich, moments after Russia was named as 2018 hosts
GIANNI INFANTINO and VLADIMIR PUTIN at the State Kremlin Palace, Moscow
A book will be written one day about how and why Russia was chosen to host the 2018 FIFA World Cup. Who could forget the dramatic finale to the voting process in Zurich on 2 December 2010, when the word "Russia" reverberated around the auditorium after the FIFA Executive Committee awarded our country the hosting rights ahead of bids by England, Spain/Portugal and the Netherlands/Belgium.

That's when the story, which was to last for eight long years, began.

However, it is not surprising that Russia, with its huge potential and long-standing football tradition, was among the favourites. The chain of events that would follow proved that the FIFA executives had not only made a far-sighted choice – but also the right one.
Совместное фото
ГЛАВНЫХ ТРЕНЕРОВ СБОРНЫХ
по окончании финальной жеребьевки
Выступление
ПОЛИНЫ ГАГАРИНОЙ
и ликующий ИКЕР КАСИЛЬЯС
awarded our country the hosting rights ahead of bids by England, Spain/Portugal and the Netherlands/Belgium.

That's when the story, which was to last for eight long years, began.

However, it is not surprising that Russia, with its huge potential and long-standing football tradition, was among the favourites. The chain of events that would follow proved that the FIFA executives had not only made a far-sighted choice – but also the right one.
RONALDO and RONALDINHO captur the moment with their phones
Diego MARADONA share a warm embrace with PELÉ