Invitations to the event were sent to foreign delegations that have arrived in Moscow to attend the World Cup final, to the FIFA President and FIFA Council members, heads of football organisations, football legends and World Cup attendees.
After the concert, Vladimir Putin had a brief conversation with former President of Madagascar Didier Ratsiraka.
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President of Russia Vladimir Putin: Mr Infantino, ladies and gentlemen, friends,
A few hours remain before the 2018 World Cup is over. Today, a short time before the final match, I think we are united by a common feeling.
We look forward to the match that will determine the world football champion but, at the very same time, we are sad that this huge celebration of sport that has given us so many positive emotions, memorable experiences and new friendships is nearing its end.
Russia adopted a comprehensive and responsible approach to preparing for the World Cup, and we are sincerely happy that it has been a success and has united millions of people globally around football.
Our efforts have been praised by athletes, who we have accommodated in a way for them to show their maximum potential, and by the media, assisted around-the-clock by staff at 11 city press centres of the tournament.
Fans, too, have praised us. I would like to stress that by coming to Russia to support their national teams they have shown how diverse this football family is. But also, they have shown its very best qualities: friendliness, being one in spirit, staying true to sports principles, and the ideals of equality and mutual respect.
We are grateful for the millions of kind words that our guests have said about Russia and its people, and we are glad that they have appreciated the hospitality, openness, nature, culture and traditions of our large country. We are pleased that our guests had the opportunity to see it with their own eyes, and that the myths and prejudices have been laid to rest.
We know that foreign fans have said repeatedly that they would like to come back bringing their friends and family members with them. We will make sure that the people who have fallen in love with Russia enjoy as relaxed visa controls as possible, that they can continue to explore our country especially since it can build on boundless potential — a testament to Russia’s multi-faceted, unique and great character, the openness of its people to friendship, cooperation, useful and creative joint projects, and common goals.
The FIFA World Cup, just as other major international sports competitions, has a unique ability to bring people together, reveal the real power of what is known as people’s diplomacy, which has always served to strengthen peace and prosperity on our planet, this common home of ours, enormous, diverse, and beautiful.
I would like to thank once again all those who made the decision to hold the 2018 World Cup in Russia, and Mr Infantino personally for the opportunity to host such a grandiose event, to express our gratitude for the trust that I hope we have lived up to, and for the support we received during the preparations. And, most importantly, for having faith in Russia as a country that keeps its promises, respects its partners, and stays true to the great spirit and principles of sport.
Friends, the World Cup is coming to an end, but we are not bidding farewell to you. In Russia, we always welcome old friends and new friends, and now have made many more of those. Thank you all, and I hope to see you again.
Thank you for your attention.
FIFA President Gianni Infantino: Dear President Putin. Dear friends. Dorogiye druzya.
It is a great emotion for me tonight to be here in this incredible theatre, the Bolshoi, and to say a few words to you.
Unfortunately, I don’t speak Russian yet. (In Russian.) Ya ne govoryu po-russki. But I will learn. Because as President Putin said, friends are always welcome in this country, and we will certainly come back.
The world is here tonight, Mr President, and tonight on the eve of the final of the World Cup, in the beautiful Luzhniki Stadium in Moscow, tonight is the night as well to say thank you. (In Russian.) Spasibo, spasibo bolshoye.
Thank you, of course, to the players, the main actors of this World Cup, who were shining on the field and gave us all great, great emotions. To the coaches, who were shouting and trying to bring their teams with the best spirit on the pitch. To the referees, who were excellent in this tournament and have helped us to have an honest and transparent competition.
To the fans, the millions, hundreds of millions of fans from all over the world and hundreds and thousands of fans who came to Russia starting from the South American fans, of course, from Colombia, from Peru, from Argentina, from Brazil, also American teams, Mexico and all other teams with fans who came here to celebrate. And for those of you who have been here in the last month, you have been witnessing that everyone was wearing a shirt, his flag with pride, walking in Moscow, walking around the cities and celebrating with Russia.
And therefore it is also time to say thank you to the Russian nation. (In Russian.) Spasibo bolshoye, Rossiya. Thank you.
Thank you to the Russian people. Thank you to all the volunteers, to all the staff members, to all those who have operated to make this World Cup an incredible success. Just look at their smiles in the last month, and look at their smiles tonight and tomorrow. This is the face of Russia. This is the face of the Russia that we love. And thank you, most importantly as well, President Putin, spasibo bolshoye for your commitment, for your dedication, for your passion. Without you, all this would not have been possible. I’m sure about that. So thank you. Congratulations.
Now, two things have happened, I think, in this country in the last month. The first one, in addition, of course, to the great football that we have witnessed, the first one is that Russia has now become a real football country. So forget ice hockey, forget whatever other Nordic sports…
Now it is official. Russia is a pure football country. And this is thanks to the performances of the Russian team, with Cherchesov and Akinfeyev, and the emotion that it gave not only to the Russians but to all of us who were in the stadiums and in the streets celebrating with the Russian people.
The second thing that has changed, and this is also very important, is the perception that the world has about Russia. And the witnesses are here in this room, the world is here in this room, dear President, tonight. And the world, over four billion people, have been watching this World Cup, have been watching the beauties of this country, which is a country which is an incredibly, incredibly rich country, in terms of culture, in terms of history. And we have discovered it. The world has discovered it. And for this we are also very fortunate and very grateful. Because all of these ingredients together made that this World Cup has not just been the greatest show on Earth, it has been the best World Cup ever. And for this I would like to thank you sincerely. (In Russian.) Spasibo bolshoye.
But before concluding, if you allow me, we are not very conventional sometimes. And I would like to see, thinking back on the last month, if it is possible to transform this evening theatre into a football stadium. If I think back on the last month, there is one word which came out all the time, in all the stadiums, in all the cities. And I think in this theatre this has never happened yet, so we tried to do something new for once. But I need you all. Will you help me? Yes?
OK, so we transform the Bolshoi into Luzhniki, right?
One, two, three…Ros-si-ya!
(Audience chants “Ros-si-ya!”)