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Russia enters final stretch to hosting historic 2018 FIFA World Cup

January 01, 2018, 1:05 UTC+3

Russia as the host country skipped the qualifying campaign and was placed in Group A alongside with national football squads from Saudi Arabia, Egypt and Uruguay

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MOSCOW, January 1. /TASS/. Russia has quite often hosted various top-level international sports events, but this year it will be the first time ever that the legendary FIFA World Cup comes to the world’s largest country to decide on the best national football team between June 14 and July 15.

Football is viewed as the world’s most popular sport and the FIFA World Cup, held every four years since 1930, is a special holiday for football fans around the globe. Hosting this quadrennial event is a privilege for any country.

Russia is now enjoying this privilege after winning the bid in Guatemala in December 2010. The victory came following a tight race against a bid from England, a joint bid from Portugal and Spain and another 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 will be played at 12 stadiums in 11 host cities as two of the stadiums are located in the Russian capital of Moscow, namely the Spartak Arena and the Luzhniki Stadium.

The Luzhniki Stadium, which was initially built in 1957, underwent a grand reconstruction before the World Cup and the 81,000 seat-capacity facility will host the opening and final matches of the championship as well as other games.

A month ago, the State Kremlin Palace in Moscow hosted the Final Draw for the 2018 FIFA World Cup, which determined the group breakdown for the FIFA flagship event this year. A total of 32 national football squads were divided into eight groups with four teams in each.

Russia as the host country skipped the qualifying campaign and was placed in Group A alongside with national football squads from Saudi Arabia, Egypt and Uruguay. The rest of the groups are as follows:

Group B: Portugal, Spain, Morocco, Iran

Group C: France, Australia, Peru, Denmark

Group D: Argentina, Iceland, Croatia, Nigeria

Group E: Brazil, Switzerland, Costa Rica, Serbia

Group F: Germany, Mexico, Sweden, South Korea

Group G: Belgium, Panama, Tunisia, England

Group H: Poland, Colombia, Senegal, Japan

Ticket sales for matches of the 2018 FIFA World Cup are divided into three phases and were launched last September. According to the FIFA, after Phase 1 of ticket sales a total of 742,760 tickets were allocated.

The Phase 2 of ticket sales for the quadrennial world football championship was divided into two periods and the first period was launched on December 5 to last until January 31. Over 2.3 million ticket requests were received worldwide by mid-December after the opening of the first period of Phase 2. The second period of Phase 2 dubbed as the "First-come, first served" will open on March 13 and provide sales services until its closure on April 3.

Phase 3, dubbed as the “Last Minute Sales,” will run from April 18 up until the final match day of the competition and the remaining tickets will be available for purchase on a first-come first-serve basis.

Russia also came up for this FIFA World Cup with an innovation, which is the so-called Fan-ID and it is required for all ticketholders. This innovation was successfully tested during the 2017 FIFA Confederations Cup in Russia and earned high marks from the world’s governing football body.

The Fan-ID plays an important security role during the major football tournament in Russia as it grants admittance to the stadiums and also serves as visa for foreign visitors to enter the country.

A Fan-ID holder is allowed to enter the country without having a Russian visa and stay for the duration of the global football tournament. Fan-IDs are obligatory, in addition to purchased tickets, in order to attend matches of the 2018 World Cup tournament in Russia. They were available free of charge at designated areas located in all hosting cities across Russia as well as via e-mails and postal services during the 2017 FIFA Confederations Cup.

Last October, the Russian Ministry of Communications and Mass Media announced the launch of a registration process for obtaining new Fan-IDs required for the 2018 FIFA World Cup.

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