For the first time in history, Russia will be hosting a FIFA World Cup after today’s historic announcement in Zurich. The cheering was tremendous in Zurich’s Messe, when FIFA President Joseph S. Blatter opened the envelope announcing the country as hosts for the 2018 event. Jumping up from his seat was Russia captain and Arsenal midfielder Andrey Arshavin. The delighted 29-year-old took the time to speak exclusively with FIFA.com after the announcement.
FIFA.com: How do you feel now after it’s been announced that the FIFA World Cup will be hosted in Russia?
Andrey Arshavin: I’m very happy, because this is a huge event. None of us yet understands what it means for the country. Probably a lot of us will only understand after 2018.
How important is it for the country to host this FIFA World Cup?
It is going to have a huge impact in sports, in our economy, in the development of the country and even in politics. The influence of football in the world is huge. You can see that even today with the presentations and those who were making them. They were politicians or athletes, like David Beckham. He is not only a football player. He is bigger than football; he is a phenomenon. Football is bigger than just a sport, that’s why it is so strongly influencing the world.
What do you expect from a FIFA World Cup in Russia?
It’s going to be the best World Cup in history because Russians are so hospitable. I hope it will change the way that Europe and the world view Russia - and hopefully change the opinion of Russian people too.
What did you feel in the moment when the result was announced?
I felt as if I had a very tough and very long game and was exhausted and tired - even with the result! But I was also very, very happy!