Vladimir Putin gave the start to the FIFA World Cup Trophy Tour at the Luzhniki Grand Sports Arena, which has opened after reconstruction at the Luzhniki Stadium. The Cup will visit 24 Russian cities and 50 countries during the Tour.

Additionally, the President examined the renovated sports complex, watched a training session with the participation of football players from various sports schools and talked to young athletes. Mr Putin was accompanied by Moscow Mayor Sergei Sobyanin and FIFA President Gianni Infantino.

The Luzhniki Stadium will become the main arena of the upcoming 2018 FIFA World Cup, hosting the Cup’s opening and final matches.

The 2018 FIFA World Cup matches will take place in Moscow, St Petersburg, Kazan, Sochi, Nizhny Novgorod, Samara, Volgograd, Rostov-on-Don, Kaliningrad, Yekaterinburg and Saransk from June 14 to July 15, 2018.

President of Russia Vladimir Putin: Mr Infantino, friends,

Today, the 2018 FIFA World Cup is starting a tour around our country, a tour around Russia. It will last for 123 days, and the total distance to be covered during the journey will amount to 26,000 kilometres.

This will be the longest tour of the most important football trophy in history. And, hopefully, it will be the most exciting one. Because our country is second to none in terms of scale and diversity of nature, culture and traditions.

Symbolically, the tour forestalling the grand football event starts from the legendary Luzhiniki Arena. This stadium is known to all generations of sports fans and is connected with names of renowned athletes, and hundreds of sports records and achievements. I am certain that the thrilling atmosphere of exciting battles and remarkable victories has been preserved at Luzhniki following its grand-scale renovation.

The stadium will rightly become the main venue for the upcoming World Cup: it will host both the opening and the final matches of this long-anticipated contest. Such beautiful, comfortable, technically advanced arenas will be waiting for football players and fans in each Russian city participating in the World Cup.

Despite the extensive experience of hosting major international competitions, we are taking meticulous care in preparing for the World Cup. Football has always been the most popular mass sport in Russia and has the largest number of fans of all ages.

Our country has done a lot for the development of football as well. It has given rise to such outstanding members of the football family as Lev Yashin, Igor Netto, Renat Dasayev and Nikita Simonyan. I am sure that there will be new football heroes and new victories. I am sure that the national team will delight its fans.

I am convinced that the 2018 FIFA World Cup will give a strong impulse to the development of football and its material legacy will become a centre of attraction for a multi-million football brotherhood, as well as for young athletes who are as talented, full of strength and desire to show their worth, as the 1,500 sports schools students from across Russia who have gathered here today.

It is you and your peers who will carry on developing football in the not too distant future, performing in adult national contests, defending the colours of famous clubs, representing your Fatherland at international contests.

Now that Russia is hosting the planet’s main football tournament, we will have an opportunity to see our players better. We are looking forward to these exciting matches, honest battles of masters and the most sincere emotions. Today’s ceremony is only drawing this event nearer.

Good luck to all participants in the upcoming 2018 FIFA World Cup, and to all football fans –victories and outstanding achievements.

Have a happy journey!