A month from now, on Saturday 25 July 2015, the curtain will rise on the first official event of the 2018 FIFA World Cup™. More than just defining the course of the qualifying phase of the tournament, the Preliminary Draw in St. Petersburg will represent a first taste of Russian culture for football fans all over the world through performances by traditional and modern artistic acts from the world’s largest country.
“The staging of the Preliminary Draw means the official beginning of the countdown to the World Cup in Russia, which is eagerly anticipated by the people in our country,” said Russia 2018 Local Organising Committee (LOC) chairman Vitaly Mutko. “We began preparations for this draw almost a year ago, and today I can confidently announce that Russia is ready to shine as hosts of this prestigious event.”
The Konstantin Palace, which is currently an official location for top government meetings, international forums and congresses, will welcome 2,000 expected guests. Besides representatives from around 140 member associations, football icons, leading sports officials, renowned artists and celebrities will attend the event. About 700 media representatives from every single continent are set to cover the events on-site.
“St. Petersburg will be the perfect setting to celebrate the symbolic first steps on the long path to the FIFA World Cup finals, with more than 840 matches to be played until we know which teams will join Russia at the finals," said FIFA Secretary General Jérôme Valcke. "It means more than 30 months of excitement, thrills and drama for football fans across all six confederations, as the first qualifying matches already played have certainly shown. Bhutan and Guam were just two great examples.”
Introducing 'The Dream'
'The Dream' will be the leitmotif of the Preliminary Draw show, which is set to kick off at 18.00 local time (15.00 GMT) and last two hours. The broadcast of the show will be made available to more than 100 territories around the world.
“Football fans from all over the world can share the joy and expectation that the Preliminary Draw brings, thanks to the live worldwide broadcast," the CEO of the Russia 2018 LOC, Alexey Sorokin. "The ceremony, which has been prepared in conjunction with creative teams from Russia’s Channel One, provides an opportunity to showcase all of our country’s cultural riches and traditions, as well as simultaneously setting the tone for the upcoming celebration of football that awaits us all in 2017 with the FIFA Confederations Cup, and 2018 with the FIFA World Cup. To us, 'The Dream' will be born one month from now in St Petersburg." Sorokin also added that the line-up of renowned Russian artists would be announced shortly.
The Preliminary Draw will decide the route by which the teams will proceed through their continental qualifying tournaments to secure one of the 31 coveted spots in the contest for the ultimate prize in world football. As hosts, Russia automatically qualify for the finals. Five of the six confederations will take part in the Preliminary Draw with the exception of Asia, where qualifying matches are already underway. For the CONCACAF region, which kicked off with a first round of qualifiers in spring this year, the groups for the subsequent stages will be drawn.
In total, 141 teams will be included in the pots during the draw conducted by the FIFA Secretary General. The detailed draw procedures will be announced after the session of the Organising Committee for the FIFA World Cup™ on 24 July in Saint Petersburg.
The draw week will feature a series of important activities and meetings starting with a behind-the-scenes event on 22 July, the presentation of the 2018 FIFA World Cup™ Sustainability Strategy on 23 July and the release of the Match Schedules for the FIFA Confederations Cup 2017 and the 2018 FIFA World Cup™ on 24 July following a meeting of the Organising Committee. On the morning of the 25 July, the first 2018 Team Seminar for those involved in the qualifiers will be staged.