It is perhaps surprising that Russia has never hosted the FIFA World Cup, the biggest of single sport events. Given the poor recent results of the national team, the Russians have a point to prove on the pitch as well as off it.
Valery Gazzaev is one of the most respected Russian managers in the game. He told euronews:
“I am proud that our country hosts this tournament. Thank God we have finally got what we have been waiting for, such a huge championship. You know only 17 countries in history had been granted an honour of hosting the World Cup.”
For vice-president of the Russian FA Serguei Anokhin, the World Cup could prove to be a pivotal moment in Russian football and could enthuse a new generation of top class players. But he also admits:
“It is hard to make any predictions. Of course we understand that there will be very serious teams from Germany and Brasil, and we have hopes about our national team, that it will first get out of the Group and will go further to make our fans happy.”