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MOSCOW, May 20. /TASS/. World’s best football players are expected this July in Russia’s St. Petersburg to attend the ceremony of the 2018 World Cup Preliminary Draw, which is the first major kick-off event ahead of the global tournament itself, Russian Sports Minister Vitaly Mutko told TASS on Wednesday.
"Although this event is strictly regulated by FIFA, I dearly hope that world level footballers from different national teams will come to St. Petersburg in July," Mutko said in an interview with TASS. "In case FIFA asks the players of the Russian national team to attend the ceremony, the will happily accept the offer. If head coaches will be part of their national delegations, our Fabio Capello will certainly come to St. Petersburg."
The sports minister said that besides the draw for the global football championship, a session of FIFA’s organizing committee will take place in St. Petersburg as well.
During the session, he said, "there will be a presentation of the whole organizational infrastructure, including teams’ bases and training sites."
The draw for the 2018 FIFA World Cup Preliminary Competition will be held on July 25 in Russia’s second largest city of St. Petersburg with a total of 208 nations having signed up for the participation in the draw.
It will be for the first time in the history of World Cups, when all national teams registered for the Preliminary Draw. Russia as the hosting nation automatically qualified for the championship and therefore is not taking part in the preliminary competition.
The first major kick-off event of the 2018 World Cup will be held at the historic Konstantinovsky Palace, a stronghold of Russia’s rich culture located on the Gulf of Finland’s stunning shoreline. It used to serve in the 18th century as one of the residences of Russia’s imperial family.
Russia won the bid to host the 2018 World Cup over four years ago in a tight race against the joint bid from England, Portugal and Spain and the joint bid on behalf of Belgium and the Netherlands.
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.