ROSTOV-ON-DON, May 23. /TASS/. The much-coveted FIFA World Cup Trophy arrived on Wednesday in the Russian southern city of Rostov-on-Don as part of its over nine-month global tour dedicated to the 2018 FIFA World Cup, which kicks off in Russia next month.
The official ceremony to greet the arrival of the Trophy in Rostov-on-Don was attended by Rostov Region Governor Vasily Golubev, World Cup ambassador Viktoria Lopyreva and FIFA representative Felicity George.
The first ones to see the Trophy were the winners of the Russian youth football tournament The Leather Ball. The kids will be also taking part in the world championship by serving balls to footballers.
"Today is a very remarkable event," Governor Golubev said speaking at the greeting ceremony. "There are not so many days left before the world championship and today’s event points out that we are on the finish line."
"A lot has been done to make sure that the heritage of the championship would be left for citizens of the region," he said. "Speaking about the youth, it is very remarkable that the winners of The Leather Ball tournament will be participating in the organization of the World Cup."
The Trophy was seen on Wednesday in Rostov-on-Don by a limited number of people, but it will be put on a public display in the center of the city on May 24-25 and on May 26 it will be on display at a new football park for children with limited abilities.
The FIFA World Cup Trophy Tour kicked off on September 9 in the Russian capital of Moscow and traveled across Russian cities until December, when it continued its journey abroad visiting over 50 countries across six continents.
The trophy returned this month to host country Russia and already made stops in the cities of Vladivostok, Novosibirsk, Yekaterinburg, Samara, Kazan and Nizhny Novgorod. After leaving Rostov-on-Don on May 26, the Trophy will travel to Russia’s second-largest city of St. Petersburg and then to Moscow, where the 2018 FIFA World Cup boosts off next month.
According to FIFA, the Trophy tour "is a rare opportunity for fans to see the Original Trophy up close and have their experience captured with a photograph."
"It’s an exciting and exclusive experience since the Trophy is otherwise only displayed at the FIFA World Football Museum in Zurich, during the FIFA World Cup Final Draw and at the final match of every FIFA World Cup."
The tradition of putting the Trophy on the journey around the globe ahead of the quadrennial football championship was launched ahead of the 2006 FIFA World Cup in Germany. The Trophy Tour in 2006 visited 29 countries and saw over 175,000 football fans taking pictures next to the FIFA World Cup Trophy.
Rostov-on-Don, founded in 1749, is a modern city with a population of over one million and it overlooks the beautiful Don River. The city is located about 1,000 kilometers (over 620 miles) to the southeast of Moscow.
The newly-built Rostov Arena is located on the south bank of the Don River and will have an estimated 45,000-seat capacity during the 2018 FIFA World Cup. The football arena is also intended to become after the world championship the home stadium for Rostov football club - the 2014 Russian Cup winners.
The football arena in Rostov-on-Don is scheduled to host a total of four group stage matches as well as one match of the Last 16 stage during the 2018 World Cup. The scheduled group stage matches at the stadium: Brazil-Switzerland on June 17; Uruguay-Saudi Arabia on June 20; South Korea-Mexico on June 23; Iceland-Croatia on June 26.
The 2018 FIFA World Cup kicks off in 22 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.