Football on Red Square: Russia celebrates 1,000 days to World Cup

Soccer players perform at a soccer park installed at Red Square before the unveiling ceremony for the clock counting down 1000 days to go until the 2018 FIFA World Cup at the Manezhnaya square in Moscow, Sept. 18. Source: EPA

Soccer players perform at a soccer park installed at Red Square before the unveiling ceremony for the clock counting down 1000 days to go until the 2018 FIFA World Cup at the Manezhnaya square in Moscow, Sept. 18. Source: EPA

EPA
Former World Cup champions attend youth tournament in Moscow.

A countdown clock to the start of the World Cup 2018 was officially launched in the center of Moscow on September 18. Igor Akinfeev and Alexander Kerzhakov, players from Russia’s national team, attended the ceremony. The date was not random – exactly 1,000 days remain to the beginning of the World Cup.

A football field was constructed on Red Square where youth teams from Germany, Italy and Spain – the countries that won the last three world championships – competed.

The Russian national team was in attendance as representatives of the World Cup's host country. Honored guests of the tournament included Lothar Matthaus, Gianluca Zambrotta – both World Cup champions – as well as Fernando Hierro, the famed Spanish footballer who appeared on four World Cup teams.

"It's hard to come up with a better idea of marking 1,000 days to the start of the World Cup than to hold a football tournament," Colin Smith, FIFA's director of competitions, said in an interview with the Russian news agency TASS.

“A thousand days is a key milestone,” Smith continued. “The start of the World Cup is within reach, but we still have a lot to do. The preparation for the World Cup is on schedule. Russia is very efficient at this.”

"Any outcome from the Russian national team at the World Cup could be expected, including its victory,” said Lothar Matthaus, a player on Germany’s 1990 national team that won the World Cup. “The team has a new coach, it is formed by good players and it will be playing on its own turf."

The FIFA World Cup will be held in Russia from June 14 to July 15, 2018. Eleven cities will host the championships, while the final will take place at Moscow's Luzhniki Stadium.

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