Russian President Vladimir Putin, right, and FIFA president Joseph Blatter during the official ceremony of handing over the 2018 World Cup signed certificate to Russia, July 13, 2014. (RIA Novosti)Brazilian President Dilma Rousseff symbolically handed over the World Cup to her Russian counterpart Vladimir Putin on Sunday, as Russia is set to host the 2018 tournament. The two were joined by FIFA president Sepp Blatter.
The ceremony took place inside Maracana Stadium before the Germany-Argentina final in Rio de Janeiro.
"I want to congratulate President Rousseff on how the World Cup was organized," Putin said, according to a FIFA statement. "We will do all we can to organize the event on the highest level.”
“Football helps to solve social problems. Our task is to create the best possible conditions for the coaches, players, experts and fans. I am grateful to President Blatter and his colleagues from FIFA for the honor to organize the World Cup,” he added.
In a symbolic gesture, Blatter presented a signed certificate, which marks the handover. The two presidents also received official match balls.
Rousseff congratulated everyone on the success of the World Cup. "Brazil is very proud for once again having staged the biggest football celebration in the world. In the last 30 days the world has been connected to Brazil, celebrating goals with a lot of emotion in the 12 host cities and making this the World Cup of World Cups.”
She also invited the world to attend the Olympic and Paralympic Games, which Rio de Janeiro will host in 2016.
After the handover, Blatter spoke about FIFA’s message. “FIFA’s World Cup in Brazil had a very special message to give – a message of togetherness and of connecting people, a message of peace and of anti-discrimination,” he said.
“We have enjoyed a successful World Cup and we will have a legacy in this country. At the same time there is a responsibility for the next host country and I’m confident that Russia will take on this responsibility and also give us a wonderful World Cup to remember in 2018.”
Russia prepares for World Cup 2018
Russia estimates that the 2018 World Cup will cost the country around US$19.5 billion. The majority of the money will go towards building 12 stadiums and other relevant infrastructure in the 11 host cities.
Those host cities include: Kaliningrad, Kazan, Moscow, Nizhny Novgorod, Rostov-on-Don, Saint Petersburg, Samara, Saransk, Sochi, Volgograd, and Yekaterinburg.
Half of the budget will come from federal funds, while the other half will be from investments.
Key infrastructure projects during the preparations include the modernization of road networks and city highways, as well as the construction of stadiums.
Russia will waive a visa regime for 2018 FIFA World Cup participants and fans, President Vladimir Putin told Itar-Tass ahead of his Latin American tour.
"Russia plans to take the FIFA World Cup a step further in some areas. For example, we passed a federal law, establishing a special visa regime for foreigners who will help to organize the 2018 championship, and enabling not only the official participants, such as the athletes, referees, coaches, and others, but also the fans to visit Russia without visas before and during the competition,” Putin said.
In January, Russian completed the construction of two World Cup stadiums – in Kazan and Sochi, according to sports minister Vitaly Mutko.
The main venue for the 2018 FIFA World Cup tournament will be Moscow’s Luzhniki Stadium, which will be hosting the opening game, semifinal, and final match.
The stadium is currently undergoing a monumental makeover. The facade of the stadium will remain the same, while the inside is being rebuilt from the ground up. It is scheduled to be completed in 2017, one year before the tournament begins.
The second Moscow stadium – Spartak FC Arena – is just days away from being operational. It is said to be a very high tech, high cost facility.
At the same time, work is also continuing at St. Petersburg's Krestovsky Island stadium. Construction on the remaining stadiums will begin this year.