Eleven cities ready for lift-off

The ceremony to announce the Host Cities for the 2018 FIFA World Cup Russia™ was watched live right across the country on the evening of Saturday 29 September.

People from every one of the 11 Russia 2018 Host Cities were able to take part in the ceremony via live video links. On hand to lend their backing to the cities were governors, mayors, sports stars, leading figures from the arts scene and football fans.

FIFA President Joseph S. Blatter noted: “During the ceremony, I discovered something that was completely new to me. The way people in the cities reacted to the news that they would be hosting the World Cup was just glorious. That’s what football’s about: bringing people together around a common idea and infecting them with enthusiasm.”

St. Petersburg: The flags of all the teams will find their way to us Russia’s northern capital was the first city to learn it had been included in the list of Host Cities for the FIFA World Cup. Local people gathered to hear the good news on Zayachy Island, which commands views of the city’s main architectural landmarks: the Hermitage and the Winter Palace. As the news was announced, a salvo of festive gunfire rang out across the sky.

Mikhail Boyarsky, Russian actor The flags of all the teams will find their way to us. Without fail, we’ll be right behind our national team, which is definitely going to be dominated by players from Zenit. I’m confident that we’ll open up our hearts to everyone who visits our city. The people of St. Petersburg are welcoming and hospitable, and we’ve got an unbelievable event to look forward to.

Georgy Poltavchenko, Governor of St. Petersburg Russian football was born in our city, and we’re very proud of it. Nowadays, St. Petersburg is carrying on the traditions of Russian football with honour. We’re passionate in our support not only of our beloved Zenit, but also the Russian national team. We have to do everything to make sure that we put on an outstanding World Cup.

Gennady Orlov, sports commentator I’m dreaming of the Russian national team performing really well. The main thing we have to do is to make sure that, once the World Cup is over, our football is world-class.

Ekaterinburg: We’re waiting for the whole world In the capital of the Urals, Ekaterinburg, which brings together two of the world’s regions, Europe and Asia, the celebrations unfolded along the city’s main street. Despite the fact that it was late in the day, several thousand people came out to celebrate.

Alexander Yakob, Mayor of Ekaterinburg We have a splendid main stadium, and we’ll definitely be doing all we can to make sure that Ekaterinburg’s World Cup matches go really well.

Grigory Ivanov, President of Ural football club People in Ekaterinburg love football. They play it, they follow it and they support their team. Football’s everything, it’s bigger than life. There was a time when we didn’t even dream of going to a World Cup in another country, but now the tournament is actually going to be taking place in Ekaterinburg. It’s the stuff of fantasy! We’ll all be working together to make this dream come true, and then everything will work out!

Sergey Isaev, a member of the Uralskiye Pelmeni open mic team I want everyone to come and visit us here in the Urals, and to see nice-looking people walking along nice-looking streets in a nice-looking city. We’re waiting for the whole world here in Ekaterinburg, and they’ll see that we know how to play football.

Sochi: Huge joy, huge pride The host city of the 2014 Winter Olympics greeted victory with a tremendous spectacle. Several hundred children from a local football school gathered at the city’s Zhemchuzhina stadium and staged a flash mob by forming a huge 2018 sign to symbolise Russia’s hosting of the FIFA World Cup.

Anatoly Rykov, First Deputy Mayor of Sochi For us, this is a source of huge joy and huge pride! In 2018 we won’t be letting anyone down. We’re looking forward to welcoming guests to our city!

Dmitry Ilyinykh, Olympic volleyball champion at London 2012 It’s great that the World Cup will be taking place in a heavenly place like the resort of Sochi! Russia deserves it!

Kazan: Expecting a great festival of football The people of Kazan greeted the arrival of the World Cup by staging a match between student teams at the local stadium, right next to the local Kremlin. Politicians, football fans and sports stars were also there to show their support for the city.

Rustam Minnikhanov, President of the Republic of Tatarstan Over the past ten years, Tatarstan has rightly been regarded as one of Russia’s major regions for sport, a breeding ground for successful sports stars and title-winning clubs like Ak Bars (ice hockey), Unix (basketball) and Sintez (water polo). The pride of Russia’s sporting capital is the Rubin football club, which has been treating its supporters to major victories at home and abroad. So it’s no coincidence that the whole of Tatarstan is looking forward to a great festival of football when the World Cup comes to town in 2018.

Alexander Volkov, Olympic volleyball champion at London 2012 I’m very proud that Kazan is one of the cities which will be hosting the World Cup. This city really does deserve this sort of tournament – there’s so much being done here for sport! I hope that all the supporters will get to see the matches, and that the members of our national team will perform really well, and keep the Russian flag flying high.

Maria Kiseleva, three-time Olympic synchronised swimming champion Kazan is rightly regarded as one of our country’s major sporting centres. It’s hosting the Universiade in 2013, the World Aquatics Championships in 2015 and then, in 2018, the FIFA World Cup. Kazan has developed fast, and now the infrastructure, the team they have in place here, the support they get from the region’s leading politicians – all these things provide a guarantee that all the matches will be superbly staged. Come visit us and see for yourselves!

Nizhny Novgorod: Our wealth lies in our people and our fans Overcome with joy, local people gathered on Minin and Pozharsky Square in Nizhny Novgorod, one of Russia’s oldest cities.

Valery Shantsev, Governor of Nizhny Novgorod region We’re absolutely full of pride. We have a wonderful city, the beautiful Volga, an ancient Kremlin – but our main wealth lies in our people and our fans. We’ll do everything we can to ensure that the tournament goes really well. We’ll build everything, we’ll sort everything out. Nizhny Novgorod will be where the best games take place.

Dmitry Svatkovsky, Deputy Governor of Nizhny Novgorod region, Olympic modern pentathlon champion For us it’s a major honour to be hosting the FIFA World Cup. I can assure you that, today, the words Russia, Nizhny Novgorod and football are as one.

Vladimir Kristovsky, soloist from the band Umaturman We’re happy and proud about the fact that one of Russia’s most beautiful cities, Nizhny Novgorod, is going to be hosting the FIFA World Cup. Hurrah for the people of Nizhny Novgorod!

**Samara: A new stadium’s the best present** Samara went to town with its celebrations. Around 2,000 people assembled at the Arena sports complex to react to the exciting news with cries of joy, whistles and applause.

*Nikolay Merkushkin, Governor of Samara region* For us here in Samara, and for the whole country, today’s a massive celebration. We won, and we’re going to continue winning, and not just at football. The country, and Samara along with it, is going to be moving forward dynamically. Go Samara, go Russia!

Oleg Saitov, acting Minister of Sport of Samara region, double Olympic boxing champion We’re very focused on doing everything possible to make sure that the World Cup matches we’ll be hosting go really well. The starting point for us is the building of a new, world-class stadium. The arena, which will have a capacity of 45,000, will be a real present to a region that has age-old footballing traditions, and, of course, to Samara’s football fans!

Alexey Nemov, four-time Olympic gymnastics champion The FIFA World Cup is a global celebration, it’s a really huge event! I’m glad that, for the first time, Russia will be hosting a tournament of the very highest calibre. The people of Samara really love football, and the city has huge numbers of football fans.

Rostov-on-Don: Football is the country’s future More than 500 people gathered in Rostov-on-Don’s Teatralnaya Square to wait impatiently for the news that the city had been chosen to host matches at the FIFA World Cup. Many of them arrived in the square carrying posters bearing the name of the city and the local football club, Rostov, as well as the flags of Russia and Rostov region.

Viktor Ponedelnik, Russian footballing legend, scorer of the winning goal for the former USSR in the final of the 1960 European Championships It was a great weight off my shoulders when I found out that Rostov-on-Don will be hosting the World Cup. I think that people in my hometown will do everything they can to make sure the tournament goes really well. Once again, I congratulate everyone on our victory!

Vasily Golubev, Governor of Rostov region Football is our country’s future, and Rostov-on-Don is going to be moving in that direction. I’m convinced that Rostov-on-Don is a city which will do everything it can to be ready for this amazing tournament. I congratulate all the people of Rostov, and the whole of Russia!

Sergey Burlakov, winner of the New York Marathon for people with disabilities I’m happy and proud about being able to represent Rostov-on-Don. Rostov forever!

Kaliningrad: Together in the name of football As the news was announced, a celebratory salvo rang out in the skies above Kaliningrad, Russia’s westernmost city. People flocked to the embankment in the area of the Fishing Village, a modern district which is seen as a symbol of Kaliningrad’s revival.

Nikolay Tsukanov, Governor of Kaliningrad region We won’t let anyone down. I am confident that Russian football will definitely triumph, and Kaliningrad will help the country in this grand undertaking. We’ll bear the colours of the Russian flag with pride.

Dmitry Rozinkevich, Honoured Master of Sports in rowing, Olympic medalist * *Kaliningrad region is a region with strong sporting traditions. There’s always been a heightened interest in sport, and in the famous Baltika football club. Hosting the 2018 World Cup will kick-start the development of sport in the region and revive bygone traditions. Not only can Kaliningrad do a good job of staging World Cup matches, it could also become a training base for our sportsmen and sportswomen.

Volgograd: Today Volgograd won’t be getting any sleep The people of Volgograd heard the news about the World Cup on the central embankment of the Volga, which has been nominated as the venue for the fan festival. The crowd which assembled there was the largest of any in the cities which were waiting for the announcement, at around 25,000. The sporting celebration on the embankment started with a mass-participation flash mob – “The City’s Waiting” – involving around 150 young sportsmen and sportswomen. On an improvised football pitch, they showed off their superb ball skills.

Tatyana Lebedeva, Olympic long jump champion I think the whole of Volgograd will be going without sleep today and will be celebrating instead. Then afterwards, we’ll start thinking about how we’re going to carry out improvements and build infrastructure in our splendid city, so that we can make a good job of hosting the tournament.

Oleg Veretennikov, all-time top goalscorer in the Russian football championship Volgograd won’t let anyone down! ** Saransk: Our national dream is coming true!** The last moment of suspense left during the announcement of the Host Cities evaporated when the word “Saransk” rang out on TV. The city is one of the country’s main centres of sporting development.** **

Vladimir Volkov, Head of the Republic of Mordovia We are confident that Saransk will make a really good job of hosting matches during the World Cup. Everyone living in the Republic of Mordovia was waiting for this – it’s our desire, our nation’s dream – and it’s come true!

Yevgeny Aldonin, plays for Mordovia football club This is a remarkable event for the city and for the whole republic. Saransk deserves the right to host the World Cup because of its attitude to sport, and because of how the city is developing.****

**Moscow: We’re looking forward to a major festival** The announcement ceremony concluded in Moscow, the heart of the tournament. Two stadiums, Luzhniki and Spartak, will be hosting matches during the FIFA World Cup.

Nikolay Tolstykh, President of the Russian Football Union I am, of course, really pleased that the Russian Federation has earned the right to host the World Cup. I have no doubt that, by pooling our efforts, we will do all we can to make sure that our country puts on a major sporting celebration. Our objective is to create a competitive national team which will please Russia’s supporters with really good performances. I’d like to congratulate not just the city and its admirers on earning the right to host World Cup matches, but also all those who took part in the contest to host matches, and all those who will be building sports facilities in preparation for this major sporting celebration.

Fabio Capello, coach of the Russian national team As yet I haven’t been to all the cities which will be hosting the World Cup, so I can’t speak about all of them. But those cities which I have visited were simply fantastic. I saw a huge amount of enthusiasm from the people who live there. So, Russia’s ready to host the World Cup.