Moscow: Russia has quite often hosted various top-level international sports events, but this year it will be the first time ever that the legendary FIFA World Cup comes to the worlds largest country between June 14 and July 15 to decide on the best national football team.
Football is viewed as the world`s most popular sport and the FIFA World Cup, held every four years since 1930, is a special holiday for football fans around the globe. Hosting this quadrennial event is a privilege for any country, reports Tass news agency.
Russia is now enjoying this privilege after winning the bid in Guatemala in December 2010. The victory came following a tight race against a bid from England, a joint bid from Portugal and Spain and another joint bid on behalf of Belgium and the Netherlands.
The country selected 11 host cities to be the venues for the matches of the 2018 World Cup and they are Moscow, St. Petersburg, Sochi, Kazan, Saransk, Kaliningrad, Volgograd, Rostov-on-Don, Nizhny Novgorod, Yekaterinburg and Samara.
The matches will be played at 12 stadiums in 11 host cities as two of the stadiums are located in the Russian capital of Moscow, namely the Spartak Arena and the Luzhniki Stadium.
The Luzhniki Stadium, which was initially built in 1957, underwent a grand reconstruction before the World Cup and the 81,000 seat-capacity facility will host the opening and final matches of the championship as well as other games.
A month ago, the State Kremlin Palace in Moscow hosted the Final Draw for the 2018 FIFA World Cup, which determined the group breakdown for the FIFA flagship event this year.
A total of 32 national football squads were divided into eight groups with four teams in each.
Russia as the host country skipped the qualifying campaign and was placed in Group A alongside with national football squads from Saudi Arabia, Egypt and Uruguay.
Ticket sales for matches of the 2018 FIFA World Cup are divided into three phases and were launched last September. According to the FIFA, after Phase 1 of ticket sales a total of 742,760 tickets were allocated.
The Phase 2 of ticket sales for the quadrennial world football championship was divided into two periods and the first period was launched on December 5 to last until January 31. Over 2.3 million ticket requests were received worldwide by mid-December after the opening of the first period of Phase 2.
The second period of Phase 2 dubbed as the "First-come, first served" will open on March 13 and provide sales services until its closure on April 3.
Phase 3, dubbed as the "Last Minute Sales," will run from April 18 up until the final match day of the competition and the remaining tickets will be available for purchase on a first-come-first-serve basis.