MOSCOW, November 27. /TASS/. Over 220,000 people had an opportunity to see the FIFA World Cup Trophy during the first stage of its tour, the International Federation of Football Associations (FIFA) said in a statement.
The first stage of the FIFA World Cup Trophy Tour began in Moscow on September 9 and concluded in the Black Sea resort of Sochi on November 26. "Over the past 78 days, the FIFA World Cup Original Trophy has visited 16 cities in Russia, including four Host Cities of the tournament. During the tour, which ended on 26 November, fans were offered a taste of the upcoming festival of football and came as close as you can be to the trophy every player is dreaming of lifting," FIFA’s statement reads.
"We have visited 16 cities in Russia, travelling more than 16,000 kilometers and passing through six time zones. Over 220,000 people had the unique opportunity to see the FIFA World Cup Trophy with their own eyes," FIFA’s Chief Commercial Officer Philippe Le Floc’h said. "FIFA World Cup Ambassadors, local celebrities and thousands of passionate Russian football fans were there to welcome the trophy at every stop. We are looking forward to the rest of the tour, during which the trophy will visit 51 countries around the world before returning to Russia next May shortly before the start of the 2018 FIFA World Cup," he said, adding that "as part of the events around the tour, numerous Host City Ambassadors were involved, including [former footballer] Dmitri Bulykin, [Olympic gold medalist pole vaulter] Yelena Isinbayeva, [five-times Olympic champion in synchronized swimming] Natalia Ishchenko, [former footballer] Evgeni Lovchev, [television presenter] Viktoria Lopyreva, [head of the Sochi football federation] Sergei Metreveli, [former tennis player] Anastasia Myskina, [Olympic medalist gymnast] Alexei Nemov and [former footballer] Sergei Semak."
"Together with FIFA and the 2018 Local Organizing Committee, we are drawing attention to the importance of developing youth football in Russia and supporting inclusivity in sport thanks to the tour," FIFA’s chief commercial officer noted. "This is precisely why we have visited sports school, children’s homes and orphanages, schools for disabled children, universities and youth football tournaments. We put on four Unified Games featuring 3,000 players and fans. I hope seeing the FIFA World Cup Trophy in person will inspire them to future achievements in sport and life," he said.
According to FIFA, on January 22, "the international leg of the FIFA World Cup Trophy" will kick off in London "before visiting 51 countries on all six continents." "The FIFA World Cup Trophy will return to Russia in May 2018, when it will visit nine more cities: Vladivostok, Novosibirsk, Ekaterinburg, Samara, Kazan, Nizhny Novgorod, Rostov-on-Don, Saint Petersburg and Moscow," the statement added.
The 2018 FIFA World Cup will be held between June 14 and July 15, 2018, in 11 Russian cities - Moscow, St. Petersburg, Kazan, Nizhny Novgorod, Saransk, Kaliningrad, Volgograd, Yekaterinburg, Samara, Sochi and Rostov-on-Don.
All the 32 teams have qualified for the World Cup, which include host Russia, Belgium, Germany, England, Spain, Poland, Iceland, Serbia, France, Portugal, Switzerland, Croatia, Denmark and Sweden (Europe); Brazil, Uruguay, Colombia, Argentina and Peru (South America); Mexico, Costa Rica and Panama (North America); Australia, Iran, Japan, South Korea and Saudi Arabia (Asia); Nigeria, Egypt, Morocco, Tunisia and Senegal (Africa).