NEW DELHI, June 13. /TASS/. The football theme dominated the meeting devoted to Day of Russia held at the Russian Embassy in New Delhi on Tuesday evening. Indian Minister of External Affairs Sushma Swaraj became the distinguished guest of the event, the fact marked by many Indian observers, as she rarely visits foreign embassies.
"Coming closely on the heels of Russia’s Independence Day celebrations in 2018 is another global mega festival that Russia would proudly host. We wish Russia a successful FIFA World Cup event that shortly begins," Sushma Swaraj said in a statement.
Russian Ambassador to India Nikolai Kudashev dwelled on the World Cup issue as well. "We expect several millions of fans to visit the World Cup matches, and it is encouraging that several thousands of them already came from India, despite the fact that the Indian team did not qualify for the 2018 World Cup. The fans are coming to Russia to witness this sports holiday and better learn and understand our country. The language of sports, free from one-sided vision, is gaining a foothold in our relations with India and in international relations," the envoy noted.
India is 97th in the FIFA rating, placed between Georgia and Qatar. Indian football players have never participated in final tournaments of world championships. That said, the Indian team won the AFC Asian Cup (1964), the Asian Games (1951, 1962) and is considered to be the leading team in South Asia (the South Asian Football Federation (SAFF) includes Bangladesh, Bhutan, India, the Maldives, Nepal, Pakistan and Sri Lanka - TASS): the Indian team won the SAFF Cup seven times (last time in 2015).
The 2018 FIFA World Cup kicks off on Thursday with the opening match in the Russian capital of Moscow between hosts Russia and the national team from Saudi Arabia.
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 above-mentioned cities across Russia. Two of the stadiums are located in the Russian capital. The US team is not among the participants.