The year of the Soccer World Cup

2018-01-24 06:00

THE quadrennial international football tournament - the Soccer World Cup - is to take place from June 14 to July 15 after Russia was awarded the hosting rights on December 2, 2010.

This will be the first World Cup held in Europe since 2006.

All but one of the stadium venues are in Russia, west of the Ural Mountains to keep travel time manageable.

The soccer showpiece involves 32 countries, including 31 teams determined through qualifying competitions and the automatically qualified host team, Russia.

Of the 32 teams, 20 will be making back-to-back appearances following the last tournament in 2014, including defending champions Germany, while Iceland and Panama will both be making their first appearances at a Fifa World Cup.

A total of 64 matches will be played in 12 venues in 11 cities. The final will take place on July 15 in Moscow at the Luzhniki Stadium.

The winners of the World Cup will qualify for the 2021 Fifa Confederations Cup.

The Russians shocked the world in 2017 when the chairman of the local organising committee (LOC), Vitaly Mutko resigned.

Mutko was banned for life from Olympics after a report, commissioned by the International Olympics committee, concluded he had run a state-sponsored doping programme in Russian sport.

The Russia 2018 LOC said it was with “great regret” it had learnt of Mutko’s decision.

“The change in the leadership of the Russia 2018 Local Organising Committee will not affect the
preparation of the 2018 Fifa World Cup,” the Russia 2018 media office said.

“Our goal remains unchanged - to host the tournament at its best organisational level for the fans and participants.”

Fifa has also acknowledged Mutko’s resignation and said it would work with the LOC under its new leadership.

The Pietermaritzburg Safa executive member and owner of law firm Poobie Govindansamy, who was part of the SA 2010 officials, says the 2018 World in Russia will go smoothly as expected because Fifa was working closely with them.

“World Cup in Russia will be one of the best events, remember Fifa is fully behind them and will wisely guide them.”

- Echo contributor.

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