Vladimir Putin: football must unite countries

Russian President visited the opening match of the FIFA Confederations Cup Russia 2017
Share 17 June
Football must serve purposes of societal development, it must unite countries, inspire and provide a dream to the younger generation. This statement was made by Russian President Vladimir Putin before the opening game of the FIFA Confederations Cup Russia 2017, which kicked off at the Saint Petersburg Stadium.

"I am happy to greet athletes and fans from various countries of the world,"  the president said. "We are only a few minutes away from the grand celebration of football. For the first time in history Russia hosts strongest teams from world continents. I would like to thank FIFA for adhering to the idea of football, trusting in our country and for supporting us in hosting the Confederations Cup, which will serve as a rehearsal of the 2018 World Cup. We have the same belief that football must serve purposes of societal development, it must unite countries, inspire and provide a dream to the younger generation."

Putin noted that the tournament will allow citizens of the world to get acquainted with Russia better. "Hundreds of thousands of Russians love football," he said. "Confederations Cup will show an open Russia to the world, our cities with rich histories and dynamic life. I am certain that arenas will host fierce and honest struggles until the very last minutes of the matches. Millions of people all over the world will see an exciting show, a real triumph of sport. Let's watch football!"

The spectators were also greeted by FIFA President Gianni Infantino, who began his speech in Russian. He thanked the organizers, noting their fantastic work, and wished spectators a colorful celebration, calling fans from all over the world to visit Russia.

The Confederations Cup opening match between Russia and New Zealand is held on Saturday in Saint Petersburg, it begins at 6 p.m Moscow time.

 The Tournament of Champions will last until July 2. Group A consists of Russia, New Zealand, Portugal and Mexico. Group B consists of Germany, Chile, Australia and Cameroon. The teams in first and second places in groups will continue to the semifinals.