Putin welcomes world to an ‘open, hospitable and friendly’ Russia

Putin welcomes world to an ‘open, hospitable and friendly’ Russia as his World Cup gets underway

  • Vladmir Putin welcomed the world to a ‘friendly’ Russia before beating Saudi 
  • Ahead of the match, he said the world was ‘united by this spectacular game’
  • Hosts defeated opponents 5-0, marking biggest win in any World Cup opening

Vladmir Putin welcomed the world to ‘an open, hospitable and friendly’ Russia before his country’s victory over Saudi Arabia tonight.

Russia’s triumph marked the biggest win in any World Cup opening game.  

The hosts defeated Saudi Arabia 5-0 — beating the 4-0 scoreline between Brazil and Mexico in 1950.

‘Football is truly loved here and it is called love at first sight, since our first official match here in 1897,’ Putin said moments before the tournament’s first match.

Putin addressed the crowd before the opening match of the World Cup kicked off at the Luzhniki Stadium in Moscow

The Russian president added: ‘Football brings us altogether in one team, we are united by this spectacular game’

‘I hope fans and teams enjoy their stay in Russia, an open, hospitable and friendly country with people who have the shared values.

‘Football brings us altogether in one team, we are united by this spectacular game,’ he added.

The World Cup got under way after British pop singer Robbie Williams took centre stage at the opening ceremony.

Russian President Vladimir Putin and FIFA president Gianni Infantino attend a gala-concert dedicated to the Russia 2018 World Cup

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The former Take That member performed four of his hits – although his controversial single ‘Party Like a Russian’ was not part of the set-list.

Williams dueted his hit single ‘Angels’ alongside Russian opera singer Aida Garifullina, with former Brazil striker Ronaldo also taking part in the ceremony.

And before Russia prepared to meet Saudi Arabia, Putin told the kingdom’s crown prince that he must cheer for the home team.

The Saudi Crown Prince flew into Moscow for the event and was hosted by the Russian President in the VIP section of the stadium

The Saudi Prince looked less than happy as his side received a drubbing at the hands of the Russians. Both FIFA President Gianni Infantino and Vladimir Putin shrugged their shoulders after the first goal

‘You know that we have very warm feelings for you, but I think you will understand that I cannot wish success to your team,’ Putin told Crown Prince Mohammad bin Salman Al Saud on Thursday.

The Saudi took the comment in stride, saying: ‘No matter the outcome of today’s match, we will still be satisfied because we achieve success in different spheres due to our joint work.’

The other two teams in Group A, Egypt and Uruguay, will play on Friday, along with the four teams in Group B – Portugal, Spain, Morocco and Iran. 

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