MOSCOW, February 13. /TASS/. Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov presented his Belgian colleague Didier Reynders with the official ball of the 2018 FIFA World Cup, which kicks off this summer in Russia, before both diplomats began talks in Moscow.
After the foreign ministers shook hands, Lavrov gave Didier the football championship’s official ball, called Telstar 18, as well as the stuffed toy of the wolf Zabivaka, which is the official mascot of the upcoming FIFA World Cup.
"We are waiting for the Belgian national football team at the World Cup," Lavrov said. "We wish you success and will do everything possible to organize the championship at the highest level."
In response, Belgian Foreign Minister Reynders gave Lavrov a ball, signed by all players of the Belgian national football team, and said he hoped that his country’s state officials would have a chance coming to Russia in June and July to watch the matches of the World Cup.
The Belgian minister also said with a smile he hoped that the Belgian football squad would play some matches during the championship at Moscow’s Spartak Arena, which is one of 12 stadiums across Russia selected to host the games of the 2018 FIFA World Cup.
Russian Foreign Minister Lavrov is famous for his passion for football and repeatedly said that he had been a fan of the Spartak Moscow football club for many years.
Last June at a meeting with students of the Baltic Federal University in the country’s westernmost city of Kaliningrad, Lavrov was asked by one of the students about the minister’s favorite national football club.
The top diplomat of Russia did not hesitate and saying "if you can see it from here" demonstrated to the audience at the university the reverse panel of his mobile phone, which displayed the official red-and-white logo of Spartak Moscow football club.
After successfully hosting the FIFA Confederations Cup matches last summer in four Russian cities, namely Moscow, St. Petersburg, Kazan and Sochi, the country 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 aforementioned cities across Russia. Two of the stadiums are located in the Russian capital.