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FIFA chief Infantino: Learning Russian is only problem in preparations for 2018 World Cup

March 18, 20:08 UTC+3
"The only thing I can say now is ‘Ya govoryu po Russki’ but that is about it," he said adding that "It means ‘I speak Russian’ - for the non-Russian speakers"
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ZURICH, March 18. /TASS/. Newly-elected President of FIFA Gianni Infantino said on Friday he was satisfied with the organizational preparations for the next World Cup, to be hosted by Russia in 2018, and learning the Russian language was the only problem that worried him ahead of the global football championship.

"I am sure that in Russia we will organize together with our Russian friends the best World Cup ever," Infantino said speaking in Zurich at his first news conference in the capacity of the FIFA president following his election to the post less than a month ago.

Asked by a TASS correspondent whether there were any problems at the moment in Russia’s preparations for the 2018 World Cup, Infantino said he only worried if he would be able to learn the Russian language by that time.

"The only thing I am worried about the World Cup in Russia is if I will be able to learn Russian until the World Cup," Infantino said. "It is something I would like [to do], but I am not sure if I will manage."

"The only thing I can say now is ‘Ya govoryu po Russki’ but that is about it," he said adding that "It means ‘I speak Russian’ - for the non-Russian speakers."

Returning back to the initial question, Infantino said "Of course there are a few items that need to be fine-tuned, to be looked at.

"But from what I hear, from what I have seen until now, from discussions we had with the [Local] Organizing Committee, and I had a private discussion with Mr. Mutko - everything is running quite well," the FIFA president said. "We [FIFA] are very positive."

Former UEFA Secretary General Infantino, 45, was one of the five candidates running for the FIFA presidency and on February 26 at the Extraordinary Congress in Zurich he was voted in the second ballot by the organization’s member associations to take charge of the world’s governing body of football.

On March 17-18, Zurich hosted a session of the FIFA Executive Committee. On Thursday Infantino held talks with Russian Sports Minister Vitaly Mutko, who is also the president of the Russian Football Union (RFU). Their meeting took place on sidelines of the Executive Committee’s session.

According to a statement from the RFU, issued after the meeting of Infantino and Mutko, "The heads of football organizations discussed in detail the progress of Russia’s preparations to host the 2018 World Cup, having both agreed that all of the preparations work is in line with the scheduled program."

Russia is currently in full-swing preparations for the global football championship after the country won the bid to host the 2018 World Cup at the FIFA Congress in Guatemala on December 4, 2010. The victory came following a tight race against the bid from England, the joint bid from Portugal and Spain and the joint bid on behalf of Belgium and the Netherlands.

The country 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.

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