Russian melodies and traditional Russian cuisine adorned a fine, Brazilian Friday evening ahead of Sunday's historic Final between Germany and Argentina. The 2018 FIFA World Cup Russia™ Local Organising Committee (LOC) Chairman and Russian Sports Minister Vitaly Mutko brought together his colleagues, figures from the football community and members of the press to provide a taster of what football fans can expect in four years' time, when the World Cup will be held on Russian soil for the first time.
FIFA president Joseph S. Blatter was among the distinguished guest to celebrate the transition between Brazil and Russia as World Cup host nations. The event was held on 11 July on the picturesque summer terrace of the Copacabana Palace Hotel in Rio de Janeiro, located on the promenade of one of the world's most-prized beaches, Copacabana. Guests included members of the FIFA Executive Committee, representatives of the international football community and journalists, who are already showing a great interest in the next World Cup.
In an introductory word to guests, Mutko remarked on the successful organisation of the 2014 World Cup by his Brazilian colleagues and pledged that, four years from now, Russia would undoubtedly surprise all football fans with its trademark hospitality and an impeccably organised tournament.
“Four years ago, in December 2010, for the first time in history our nation was granted the right to hold a FIFA World Cup,” Russia 2018 LOC chairman Mutko reminded guests. “This decision by my colleagues in the FIFA Executive Committee is, without exaggeration, historic – in 2018 the World Cup will be held in the world's largest country, where people truly love and treasure football.
"Believe me, we will do everything to create the most welcoming conditions for everyone taking part in the tournament – the teams, the international football families, partners and, of course, the hundreds of thousands of fans coming from all over the world.
"Today we are in the astonishingly beautiful city of Rio de Janeiro, in Brazil, where football is the very soul of its people; its passion; almost a religion. I would like to congratulate my Brazilian colleagues on a wonderfully-organised tournament, whose incredible quality of football, emotion and surprises have touched us all.”
Melodic Russian ballads and soulful Kuban Cossack songs filled the air as guests enjoyed the Russian evening at the Copacabana Palace hotel, and everyone had the opportunity to sample Russian cuisine.
Russian President Vladimir Putin is set to arrive in Rio de Janeiro on Sunday to watch the FIFA World Cup Final at the Maracanã stadium, and will take part in the hosting rights handover ceremony from Brazil to Russia, which will take place before the match.
Russia 2018 will feature 11 host cities: Moscow, St Petersburg, Kaliningrad, Kazan, Nizhny Novgorod, Samara, Saransk, Volgograd, Rostov-on-Don, Sochi and Ekaterinburg.