MOSCOW: Foreign Soccer fans will be allowed to travel to Russia without visas until the end of 2018. The announcement was made by President Vladimir Putin after the World Cup final in Moscow on Sunday. "I think we will do the following: for foreign fans who currently have fan IDs, we will give them multi-entry visa-free travel until the end of the year," Putin said.
Russia had allowed soccer fans to travel to Russia without visas to attend the World Cup once they obtained fan IDs that were issued to supporters with match tickets. The fan IDs which permitted ticket-holders to enter Russia had initially been due to expire on July 25.
Putin said Russia was "proud" of its hosting of the football World Cup and called the tournament a success "in every respect". "We can surely be proud of how we organised this tournament. We have made this grand event a success in every respect," Putin said in a televised address after France's victory against Croatia on Sunday.
"We have done it for our supporters, for Russians who are passionate about the sport and for all those who love sport across the world." Putin thanked the foreign fans who came to Russia for the tournament.
Before it started a month ago, there had been concerns due to the memory of violence between Russian and English fans during the Euro 2016 tournament in France. Fans at this World Cup "showed that sport and football can manage not to divide people and not lead to fights and disputes, but unite people on the basis of common values," Putin said.
"People tried to scare us by saying the English would come and commit hooliganism... But everyone behaved in a most exemplary manner."
Now, "foreign supporters who currently have fan IDs will be able to benefit from multiple entries into the Russian Federation without a visa until the end of the year," Putin said.
Despite high diplomatic tension between Moscow and the West, world football officials and personalities as well as world leaders have lined up to praise Russia's hosting of the tournament. Russian leaders revelled in last night's dramatic match after French players lifted the trophy.
The game was watched by Putin, French President Emmanuel Macron and Croatian President Kolinda Grabar-Kitarovic.
Putin said he had congratulated both leaders. "A score of 4-2 in a final -- I can't remember seeing a score like that and few people could," Putin said. "Both teams were magnificent... I am sure everyone liked the way they played, and so did I."