FIFA World Cup 2018 kicks off in Russia

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Moscow: The much-awaited football’s most prestigious tournament, FIFA World Cup 2018, began here on Thursday with host Russia taking on Saudi Arabia at the Luzhniki Stadium.

The curtain for the month-long Football World Cup was raised at the opening ceremony ahead of the opening fixture. British pop star Robbie Williams performed at the opening ceremony.

On the eve of the opening ceremony, President of the Russian Federation Vladimir Putin made an appearance at the Expocentre and delivered a speech to the representatives of FIFA’s member associations reiterating the country’s readiness to welcome the world at the 80,000-seat Luzhniki Stadium in Moscow.

According to sources, a total of 64 matches will be played in the Football World Cup in 12 stadiums of 11 cities. Russia is spending $13 billion to put on the event.

While the group play runs through June 28, the knockout phase will begin June 30. The World Cup champion will be crowned July 15.

Brazil, France, Spain, Argentina and defending champion Germany are among the favorites to win the 32-team tournament.

In addition to fans watching the games in Russia, television broadcasts will reach massive audiences around the world.

Football’s governing body FIFA said during the last world cup in 2014 an estimated 3 billion people watched at least part of a game during the tournament, while 1 billion tuned in for the final match between Germany and Argentina.

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