MOSCOW, May 15. /TASS/. Argentinian President Mauricio Macri’s reported refusal to come to Russia for matches of the 2018 FIFA World Cup, is unconfirmed, Argentina’s Ambassador to Russia Ricardo Lagorio told journalists on Tuesday.
Argentina’s La Nacion daily announced late last week that President Macri decided to cancel his previously planned visit to Russia to see matches of the upcoming international football tournament. His decision, according to the daily, was made in the wake of the deteriorating economic situation in Argentina.
"I cannot confirm the cancellation of his (presidential) visit," Lagorio said adding that President Macri’s attendance of the global football championship was still on the agenda.
The Argentinian ambassador said that the country’s president was expected to make a personal decision on his visit later, but did not name the dates.
"He is the president and it is up to him to name the dates for his decisions," Lagorio said. "All I can say is that our president is a devoted football fan."
Following bilateral talks with Russian President Vladimir Putin in January, Argentina’s Macri said he hoped to attend matches of the upcoming World Cup together with his daughter Antonia.
On December 1, 2017, the State Kremlin Palace in Moscow hosted the Final Draw for the 2018 FIFA World Cup, which determined the group breakdown for the FIFA flagship event this year. A total of 32 national football squads were divided into eight groups with four teams in each.
Team Argentina was placed in Group D alongside with the national teams from Iceland, Croatia and Nigeria. The group stage matches of the Argentinian national squad will be played on June 16 against Iceland in Moscow, on June 21 against Croatia in Nizhny Novgorod and on June 26 against Nigeria in Saint Petersburg.
Gleb Nikitin, the acting governor of the Nizhny Novgorod region, said last month that the region expected to receive about 5,000 football fans from Argentina during the football championship and, most importantly, President Macri was also expected to come to see the match of his national team against Croatia in Nizhny Novgorod.
The 2018 FIFA World Cup kicks off in 30 days with the opening match in the Russian capital of Moscow.
Russia selected 11 host cities to be the venues for the matches of the 2018 World Cup and they are Moscow, St. Petersburg, Sochi, Kazan, Saransk, Kaliningrad, Volgograd, Rostov-on-Don, Nizhny Novgorod, Yekaterinburg and Samara.
The matches of the 2018 World Cup will be held between June 14 and July 15 at 12 stadiums located in the 11 mentioned above cities across Russia. Two of the stadiums are located in the Russian capital.