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ST. PETERSBURG, July 24. /TASS/. Former captain of the Russian national football team Alexey Smertin will replace Zenit FC striker Hulk in the squad of assistants at the much-anticipated 2018 World Cup Preliminary Draw on Saturday in Russia’s second largest city of St. Petersburg, FIFA announced on Friday.
According to a statement from FIFA, Smertin, who played at the 2002 Korea/Japan World Cup and 2004 UEFA Euro Cup, took the spot of Hulk in the team of Draw’s assistants "due to the Brazilian’s club commitments with FC Zenit."
Russia’s 40-year-old former half-back will join the team of other world’s football stars, in particular — Ronaldo, Diego Forlan, Fabio Cannavaro, Samuel Eto’o, Oliver Bierhoff, Alexander Kerzhakov, Rinat Dasaev, Madjer and Predrag Rajkovic.
Top-model and well-known philanthropist from Russia Natalia Vodianova and Russia’s TV presenter Dmitry Shepelev will run the show of the Preliminary Draw, which is also expected to be attended by Russian President Vladimir Putin.
The draw for the 2018 FIFA World Cup Preliminary Competition 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.
A total of 208 nations have signed up for the Preliminary Draw, which is the first major kick-off event ahead of the global tournament itself.
The World Cup’s Preliminary Draw, which was first broadcast on television in 1971, underwent a remarkable evolutionary process throughout the years and is seen as the most to important cultural showpiece and the kick-start event for the championship itself.
In different decades and years this cultural showpiece was staged on numerous prominent global venues, including Louvre Museum in Paris, Madison Square Garden in New York and many others, and, according to FIFA official website, Russia’s St. Petersburg will continue "the tradition of memorable draws."
As part of its preparations for the Preliminary Draw, Russia launched earlier this month information and tourist Web portal (Welcome2018.com). It was designed to help spectators to be up to date to all developing events of the global football tournament and show them all tourist attractions of Russia.
The 2018 FIFA World Cup information and tourist news portal was prepared with the support of Russian news agency TASS and launched at a news conference at the agency on July 15.
The launched information and tourist portal for the 2018 World Cup in Russia contains over 15,000 exclusive pictures of Russian cities as well as over 4,000 new verified interesting facts about the cities, selected to be the venues for the football championship’s matches in less than three years.
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.