MOSCOW, November 21. /TASS/. The announced participation of world’s football legends in the 2018 FIFA World Cup Final Draw, due to be held next week in the Russian capital of Moscow, will crown the significance of the upcoming event, Russian Deputy Prime Minister Vitaly Mutko told TASS on Tuesday.
The FIFA announced earlier in the day that eight high-profile football players from around the globe would "be lending a helping hand on 1 December" during the much-awaited Final Draw for the 2018 World Cup at Moscow’s State Kremlin Palace.
"This is simply great that the Draw will see the participation of the world champions and famous players, since on the one hand, it crowns the beauty of the event and on the other, it speaks for its impartiality," Mutko, who is also the president of the Russian Football Union (RFU) and the head of the Russian Local Organizing Committee (LOC), said in an interview with TASS.
"This will be a very good message to all football fans," the Russian deputy premier said. "I hope that the Draw will be held at a very decent level."
According to Mutko, who oversees the issues of sports, tourism and youth affairs in the Russian government, the currently high figure of sold tickets for upcoming matches of the 2018 FIFA World Cup "speak for enormous interest in the world championship."
"This is not the first time, when (football) stars arrive in our country," he said. "The FIFA World Cup Trophy is currently on a tour across Russia. All of this serves the purpose of popularizing the sport of football."
The FIFA said in its statement earlier in the day that "Laurent Blanc, Gordon Banks, Cafu, Fabio Cannavaro, Diego Forlan, Diego Maradona and Carles Puyol will be the footballing royalty assisting draw conductor Gary Lineker, who will also be supported by Maria Komandnaya, at Moscow’s State Kremlin Palace."
"Together with trophy bearer Miroslav Klose, they will represent the eight FIFA World Cup-winning nations," according to the FIFA. "The eighth draw assistant is Russian football legend Nikita Simonyan."
The announced group of international assistants for the Draw encompasses players from 13 different final competitions of the world’s quadrennial football championship. Russia’s 91-year-old Nikita Simonyan played at the 1958 World Cup in Sweden and Uruguay’s Diego Forlan played at the most recent championship, which was the 2014 FIFA World Cup in Brazil.
Commenting on the line-up of football stars planning to assist in Moscow with the Final Draw, FIFA President Gianni Infantino was quoted by the official website as saying that "It is a great line-up and I am delighted to have FIFA Legends from all of the former World Cup winning countries represented in the Final Draw show."
"The Final Draw is an exciting moment for all of us football fans for obvious reasons," Infantino stated. "But it is also a magical one because it allows us to look ahead to the big emotions that await us during the World Cup while also bringing the spotlight to those who have made history."
Cafu, who played for Brazil at four World Cups winning two of them and who also served as a Final Draw assistant four years ago, said he was certain that Russia would organize a high-level event in Moscow.
"The Final Draw is a moment when the whole planet joins in enthusiasm and expectation, so makes me happy to be a part of that once again," Cafu was quoted in the FIFA statement as saying. "I was fortunate enough to come to Russia several times over the course of this World Cup cycle and I am quite certain that the country will deliver yet another fantastic event in Moscow."
French football legend Laurent Blanc, who won the 1998 FIFA World Cup on home ground, said that being at the Final Draw in Moscow would make him part of the tournament’s excitement once again.
"It has been almost 20 years since my unforgettable World Cup experience, and taking part in the Final Draw is an incredible way of feeling closer to the excitement of that tournament again," Blanc said.
After successfully hosting the FIFA Confederations Cup this summer, Russia is now in full-swing preparations to host the 2018 FIFA World Cup.
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.