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MOSCOW, January 16. /TASS/. The journey to the 2018 FIFA World Cup in Russia officially begun with the CONCACAF (Confederation Of North, Central American And Caribbean Association Football) qualifiers draw for the championship in Miami Beach on Thursday night, FIFA said in its statement on Friday.
“The journey to Russia begins today. I hope all of you in attendance are ready to embrace passage to a greater goal,” FIFA quoted Jeffrey Webb, President of the North, Central American and Caribbean Zone, as saying during the draw.
According to FIFA’s statement, the 14 lowest-ranked teams in CONCACAF (as of August 2014) were drawn in direct competition. The seven home-and-away series of Round One will take place in late March 2015 and will see some of the smallest nations in the Football family fight it out, chasing a distant dream.
All 209 national football associations across the globe registered to take part in qualifying matches for the World Cup in Russia, which is a record figure in the history of the quadrennial global football championship.
Russia won the bid to host the football competition four years ago in a tight race against a joint challenge from England, Portugal and Spain and the combined bid by Belgium and The Netherlands.
Shortly before Brazil’s Rio de Janeiro dropped the curtains on the 2014 World Cup with the final Germany-Argentina clash in July, the baton of global football tournament’s hosting nations passed to Russia. The symbolic handover ceremony of the right to host the competition was held at the iconic 74,700-seat Maracana Stadium in Rio, attended by FIFA President Sepp Blatter, Brazilian President Dilma Rousseff and Russia's President Vladimir Putin.
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.