MOSCOW, June 14. /TASS/. Russian President Vladimir Putin believes that billions of people around the world are united in one football team and no rifts are capable of overpowering that unity.
"Just stop to think: devout football fans number billions around the globe and this is not an exaggeration. Wherever we may live, whatever traditions we may follow, love of football unites us into one team. All of us share love of this spectacular, bright and uncompromising game," Putin said at the opening ceremony of the 2018 FIFA World Cup finals. "This explains why all members of this team understand and feel each other so well."
Putin is certain: "This unity, which no language, ideology or faith distinctions can overpower, is the source of the great strength of football and sport in general and of the strength of its humanistic ideals."
"Our task is to preserve this power and unity for the generations to come in the name of sports and stronger peace and mutual understanding among peoples," Putin said.
He congratulated "the large, multi-ethnic and harmonious world football family upon the beginning of the main global tournament."
"This tremendous sports event is being held in Russia for the first time and we are sincerely glad about this," Putin said. "At first sight football in our country is not the most massive sport, but love for football in this country is real."
"It is love at first sight - starting from the very first official match that was played in Russia in 1897," Putin said.
"We were making preparations for hosting this grandiose event with responsibility and we did our utmost to let the fans, athletes and specialists to get immersed in the atmosphere of a marvelous football festival and, of course, to enjoy their stay in Russia - an open and hospitable country, and to make new friends and associates," Putin said.
In conclusion Putin wished success to all participating teams and unforgettable impressions to the fans.