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MOSCOW, September 17. /TASS/. Russia is very committed to the organization of the 2018 World Cup as the country seeks to stage the biggest sports event in the world and go beyond simply ‘organizing football matches,’ FIFA Secretary General Jerome Valcke said on Thursday.
In a video address posted by FIFA on Thursday, Valcke wished the Russian organizers of the championship good luck with the launch of 1,000-day countdown to the 2018 World Cup event, which the Russians will be celebrating in 33 cities across the country on Friday.
"I would say firstly, it is the commitment from the Local Organizing Committee [LOC] and people in Russia working with the Local Organizing Committee and their dedication to make this event the biggest event," Valcke said.
The FIFA secretary general has praised all Russia’s efforts up to the moment in the country’s preparations for the global football championship.
"We have witnessed the Preliminary Draw in St. Petersburg, which was perfect," he said.
Less than two months ago, Russia’s second largest city of St. Petersburg was the venue for the 2018 FIFA World Cup Preliminary Draw, which is the first major kick-off event ahead of the global tournament itself. A total of 208 nations participated in the event on July 25 and it was for the first time in the history of World Cups, when all national teams registered for the Preliminary Draw.
"You see the passion of people, when the last game - when Russia won," Valcke said. "Football is part of DNA of Russians, so it is an important thing. The World Cup means [for Russia] something which goes beyond football."
The Russian national football team’s most recent match was a 2016 UEFA Euro Cup away qualifier against Liechtenstein on September 8, when Russia inflicted a deafening 7-0 victory over the hosts.
"You are hosting the biggest sport event in the world," Valcke continued. "It means that you will welcome the world. So it goes beyond just organizing the football games, organizing 64 games. It is to be recognized by the world as the host of the biggest sporting event."
"They [Russia] are proud to have this organization [of the World Cup] and that is why you see an enthusiasm," the FIFA secretary general added.
Russia is currently in full-swing preparations for the 2018 FIFA World Cup. The country won the bid to host the global football championship 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.
Main celebrations of Russia’s countdown to the FIFA World Cup, which was inaugurated almost a century ago and takes place once in four years, will be held in the Russian capital of Moscow.
According to the official 2018 FIFA World Cup Russia website, on Friday morning the Manezh Square, located in the heart of Moscow, will "witness the unveiling of a countdown clock which will tick down to the moment when the 21st edition of football’s flagship event kicks off on 14 June 2018 at the Luzhniki stadium."
Later in the day, the Red Square will host a football tournament for Under-16 national teams. The competition will bring together Russia and the countries that have won the last three editions of the FIFA World Cup: Italy, Spain and Germany.
Visitors will be able to access an interactive World Cup-themed fan park in Red Square. Keen supporters will be able to attend some training and autograph signing sessions with top football names to be announced closer to the event, according to organizers.
"The headline act of this footballing show in Red Square will be the presentation of the 2018 FIFA World Cup Winner’s Trophy, giving all fans an opportunity to be photographed with one of the most recognizable sporting prizes in the world," the organizers said.