MOSCOW, June 1. /TASS/. Volunteers of the FIFA World Cup are the "heart and the soul" of the global football championship, which will be held in Russia in two years, FIFA President Gianni Infantino told journalists on Wednesday.
"I am here for the launch of the volunteer program and because President [Vladimir] Putin invited me to come," Infantino, who is currently paying an official visit to Russia, said. "Volunteers are the heart and the soul of the World Cup."
"They are those who will make people feel welcomed, feel at home," he said. "They are playing a very important role. It is the population of Russia that is participating actively in the organization of the World Cup."
The FIFA president said all people can be considered volunteers to some extent and can viewed himself as a volunteer as well.
"Sport in general, and football in particular, is based on work of millions of volunteers - while driving their kids to play matches, while washing their shirts," he said. "We have all been volunteers to some extent. I feel very much part of this volunteer team."
Later in the afternoon both Infantino and Putin will launch the 2018 FIFA World Cup and the 2017 FIFA Confederations Cup Volunteer Recruitment campaign at a solemn ceremony in the Russian capital.
The ceremony will be also attended by Russian Sports Minister Vitaly Mutko, Moscow Mayor Sergei Sobyanin, Director General of the Local Organizing Committee (LOC) Russia-2018 Alexei Sorokin, famous Spanish footballer Carles Puyol, who is the 2008 Euro Cup champion and the 2010 World Cup champion, as well as by many other Russian officials, celebrities and footballers.
FIFA plans a presentation event during the 2016 UEFA Euro Cup in France to provide information on the upcoming 2017 Confederations Cup and 2018 World Cup in Russia, Infantino said.
"It is not hundred percent fixed yet but we are planning an event on the 8th of July in order to present a bit more information on the Confederations Cup and the World Cup," Infantino said. "I will be there as well obviously."
"As for the European championship I am planning to go to the opening match and go to the final and for the rest [of the matches] we will see," Infantino said. "But a have a few other things to do as well."
"As much as I love to go to watch football matches I am afraid I will not have too much time to go and attend the games," Infantino said.
A special category of tickets for matches of the 2018 World Cup in Russia will not be a problem for FIFA as the global organization wants to give a chance for everyone to buy a ticket at a reasonable price, Infantino said.
Ticket prices for FIFA tournaments are usually divided into three categories and the global football organization visas the price for each category. In case the fourth category is introduced for the World Cup in Russia it will be the cheapest compared to the others.
"We are having discussions but we are not ready yet to visa prices," Infantino, who is currently paying an official visit to Russia, said. "There will certainly be the fourth category of tickets and it will take into account, of course, the local situation."
"We will not lose money. FIFA will generate enough for the World Cup," he said. "It is important that we give a chance to the people to participate."
"There will be more than 600,000 of tickets on sale for the Confederations Cup and more than a million tickets on sale for the World Cup," Infantino said. "So many people will be able to attend these events, but many people will not be able to attend the events."
"We must really give the possibility to everyone or at least a chance to buy a ticket at a reasonable price and to be able to attend the matches," Infantino added.
Last October, the Russian Sports Ministry certified 15 higher education establishments in 11 cities across Russia, officially authorizing them to recruit and prepare volunteers for the Confederations Cup and the World Cup, which are the two major FIFA events to be hosted by Russia in 2017 and 2018 respectively.
Today’s ceremony will officially launch the recruitment, selection and training of volunteers for the 2017 and 2018 FIFA tournaments. A total of 5,000 volunteers will be selected to serve at the 2017 FIFA Confederations Cup, while 15,000 volunteers are planned to be recruited for the 2018 FIFA World Cup.
Infantino, elected the president of the world’s governing body of football three months ago, is paying his second official visit to Russia in his current capacity.
He paid his previous visit to Moscow in late April. He held a meeting with President Putin, Sports Minister Mutko and other state and sports officials, addressed the Federation Council (the Russian parliament’s upper house), toured the newly-built Otkritie-Arena stadium, which will host 2018 World Cup matches, and paid a visit to the currently reconstructed Luzhniki Arena, which will host the final match of the 2018 World Cup.
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.
The 2017 FIFA Confederations Cup will be held at four stadiums in Russia and they are Otkritie-Arena in Moscow, St. Petersburg Arena, Fisht in Sochi and Kazan-Arena in Kazan.