Kazan, Russia: World Cup fever is finally taking hold in Russia, where wild enthusiasm in provincial centres such as chilly Kazan, is filtering through to Moscow ahead of Thursday’s opening match in the capital.
While locals have clamoured to see Lionel Messi and Neymar, it has proved a slow build-up to the June 14-July 15 showpiece, which is being held in Russia for the first time. Around 350 crore people across the globe are expected to watch the tournament.
The tournament opener featuring Russia and Saudi Arabia at the imposing 80,000-capacity Luzhniki stadium will be played at 8.30pm IST on Thursday.
While the atmosphere remains muted in the larger of the 11 host cities, it is sure to intensify, as an estimated one million fans from 32 participating nations pour into the country.
Hierro replaces sacked lopetegui
- Spain on Wednesday named Spanish football federation sporting director Fernando Hierro as its World Cup coach to replace Julen Lopetegui, who was sensationally sacked, after his surprise appointment as Real Madrid manager on Tuesday.
- The 50-year-old Hierro’s only real coaching experience came when he was in charge of second division Spanish outfit Oviedo for one season.
- Lopetegui was sacked just two days before the team’s opening game against Portugal at the World Cup.
‘2018 WC will be best in history’
FIFA president Gianni Infantino predicted on Wednesday that the 2018 FIFA World Cup in Russia was set to be the best edition of the tournament in history, and emphasised that he had reformed and revived football’s governing body after taking the helm two years ago.
US, Mexico and Canada to co-host 48-team 2026 WC
- The United States, Mexico and Canada will host the 2026 World Cup after a clear victory over underdogs Morocco in a vote by FIFA member nations on Wednesday.
- ￼The joint North American bid received 134 of the 203 votes, while Morocco polled 65 in the ballot at a FIFA Congress held in Moscow on the eve of the 2018 World Cup.
- ￼The 2026 competition is set to be the first in FIFA’s history to feature 48 instead of the usual 32 teams.