St. Petersburg: President Vladimir Putin has said the football World Cup to be held in Russia in 2018 was a good opportunity to show the world an open and multifaceted country.
According to Putin, the World Cup would guide all visitors to "experience the unique history and diverse culture of Russia" as the matches would be held in 11 cities located in "Russian regions with distinctive traditions", Xinhua reported.
Speaking at the beginning of the qualification draws here on Saturday, Putin promised that Russia would do everything to ensure the safety and maximum comfort for football fans from all over the world.
The president in particular mentioned the decision to scrap visas for 2018 World Cup visitors as one practical step to achieve that goal.
"I would like to reiterate that all preparation plans for the World Cup would be completed. Holding the games is one of our key tasks," Putin said.
He added that creating decent conditions for teams to "fully concentrate on the game and show high quality football skills" is "fundamentally important" for Russia.
Before addressing the qualification draws held at Constantine Palace in Strelna outside St. Petersburg, Putin met with world football governing body FIFA president Sepp Blatter.