World Cup 2018: FIFA Tells Vladimir Putin World Is "In Love" With Russia

Updated: 06 July 2018 17:06 IST

Gianni Infantino spoke at a meeting with Vladimir Putin and former world football stars including ex-Denmark goalkeeper Peter Schmeichel.

World Cup 2018: FIFA Tells Vladimir Putin World Is "In Love" With Russia
Infantino made the comments at a televised meeting with Vladimir Putin and former world football stars. © AFP

FIFA president Gianni Infantino told President Vladimir Putin on Friday the world was "in love" with World Cup 2018 hosts Russia and praised him for overcoming negative stereotypes about the country. Infantino spoke at a meeting with Putin and former world football stars including former England defender Rio Ferdinand and ex-Denmark goalkeeper Peter Schmeichel. "We all fell in love with Russia," Infantino told a beaming Putin at the televised meeting in the Kremlin. "Everyone who has been here for a period of time now has discovered a country that we didn't know."

Despite high tensions with the West, Putin has presided over a well-organised, good-humoured tournament.

Human rights groups warn, however, that he is using the world's biggest sporting event to gloss over his authoritarian rule.

Human Rights Watch said the tournament is taking place "during the worst human rights crisis in Russia since the Soviet era".

But the FIFA World Cup 2018 has created an unusual carnival atmosphere in traditionally conservative Russia -- not least due to the home team's own unexpected success.

"Russia has become a true football country. The virus of football has entered into the bodies of each and every Russian citizen," Infantino said.

Hundreds of thousands of foreigners are visiting, with many saying it has allowed them to discover a different, softer side to Russia.

"Many stereotypes about Russia have simply collapsed," Putin told his guests, who also included Lothar Matthaus of Germany and Marco van Basten of the Netherlands.

"People have seen that Russia is a hospitable country which is friendly to visitors."

Infantino praised Putin's government for busting negative anti-Russian stereotypes.

"All the fears that some were trying to put on us with regards to this World Cup, well not only they were not true but it's actually the opposite."

Infantino was elected president of world football's governing body in 2016. His predecessor Sepp Blatter resigned following a corruption scandal.

Comments
Topics : FIFA 2018 FIFA World Cup Football
Highlights
  • Infantino told Vladimir Putin the world was "in love" with Russia
  • Infantino spoke at a meeting with Putin, former world football stars
  • Russia are hosting the 2018 FIFA World Cup
Related Articles
World Cup Stars Dominate FIFA Best Player Award Shortlist, Neymar Misses Out
World Cup Stars Dominate FIFA Best Player Award Shortlist, Neymar Misses Out
World Cup 2018: Football Future Seems Bright After Great Final At "Greatest" World Cup
World Cup 2018: Football Future Seems Bright After Great Final At "Greatest" World Cup
World Cup 2018: Croatian President Kolinda Grabar-Kitarovic
World Cup 2018: Croatian President Kolinda Grabar-Kitarovic 'Can't Wait' For World Cup Final
World Cup 2018: VAR Used 440 Times, Increased Referee Accuracy, Ended Off-Side Goals
World Cup 2018: VAR Used 440 Times, Increased Referee Accuracy, Ended Off-Side Goals
FIFA President Gianni Infantino Thanks Russia For
FIFA President Gianni Infantino Thanks Russia For 'Best World Cup' Ever
Advertisement