The ceremony was also attended by FIFA President Gianni Infantino, heads of state and government of Abkhazia, Armenia, Azerbaijan, Belarus, Bolivia, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Lebanon, Moldova, Panama, Paraguay, Rwanda, South Ossetia, Tajikistan and Uzbekistan, Crown Prince of Saudi Arabia Mohammed bin Salman Al Saud, and Chairman of the Presidium of the Supreme People's Assembly of the DPRK Kim Yong-nam.
The opening match of the World Cup between the national teams of Russia and Saudi Arabia ended in a 5–0 win for Russia.
During half-time, the President of Russia chatted with Vice Premier of the State Council of China Sun Chunlan, President of Moldova Igor Dodon and former President of France Nicolas Sarkozy, among others.
Earlier today and the day before, Vladimir Putin held bilateral meetings with the leaders of a number of countries who arrived for the opening of the World Cup.
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Speech at 2018 FIFA World Cup opening ceremony
President of Russia Vladimir Putin: Friends,
I welcome all guests to the legendary Moscow stadium Luzhniki, everyone gathered in the numerous fan zones of the 2018 FIFA World Cup, and those watching us on television or online.
I congratulate you – the entire large, multinational, tightly-knit international football family – on the start of the top tournament on the planet!
This major sporting event is being held in Russia for the first time, and we are sincerely happy about it. In our country, football is not just the most popular sport. People genuinely love football. And it was love at first sight, from the first official match that took place in Russia in 1897.
We prepared responsibly for this major event and did our best so that fans, athletes and specialists could immerse themselves in the atmosphere of this magnificent football festival and, of course, enjoy their stay in Russia – open, hospitable, friendly Russia – and find new friends here, new like-minded people.
Consider this: without exaggeration, there are billions of people on the planet who are devoted football fans. And wherever we live, no matter our traditions, we all are united as one team by our love for this spectacular, dazzling, uncompromising game. And so all the members of this team understand each other well, they have a good sense of each other.
It is in this unity, which bends neither to differences in language, nor in ideology, nor in faith, that the great power of football, of sport in general, the power of its humanistic principles, lies.
Our task is to preserve this power, this unity for future generations, for the sake of developing sport and strengthening peace and mutual understanding among peoples.
I wish success to all the teams, and unforgettable impressions to fans.
Welcome to Russia!
FIFA President Gianni Infantino (In Russian.): Dear friends,
Welcome to the World Cup!
(In English.) Dear friends,
Welcome to the FIFA World Cup here in Russia!
As of today, for one month, football will conquer Russia. And from Russia, football will conquer the entire world. Enjoy the biggest celebration on earth! Thank you, President Putin! Thank you, Moscow!
(In Russian.) Thank you, Russia!