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Putin and other heads of states among lined up to grace the inaugural ceremony

By Japheth Ogila | Published Thu, June 14th 2018 at 12:00, Updated June 14th 2018 at 13:25 GMT +3
Lukhniki Stadium in Moscow to be used in opening ceremony. [Photo/Courtesy]

The world breathes the air of sporting season set to begin in Russian City Moscow as world’s football federation FIFA waits to flag off the month-long tournament.

With soccer lovers picking up their favourite teams out of the 32 competitors, organizers are putting logistics to rest as Russian President Vladimir Putin among other leaders unroll their sleeves to preside over the event later on today.

A string of events will be witnessed at the 2018 Russia World Cup inaugural ceremony.  This is not just a typical regular event- but one that comes occasionally.

 Fans can expect the following at the opening ceremony at Lukniki Stadium in Russia today.

Russian President Vladimir Putin and various guests

Russian President Vladimir Putin to feature in the inaugural ceremony. [Photo/Courtesy]

Russian President Vladimir Putin being the head of state will preside over the preliminary session of the event. Putin will join dignitaries comprising officials from FIFA such as Gianni Infantino, presidents from other continental football federations, among others.

One of the invited guests include the Saudi Arabian Prince Mohammed Bin Salman who has been reportedly invited to the event for political talks. 

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Salman will also seize the moment to grace the opener as well as watching his countrymen Saudi Arabians take the Russians in the opening match at Lukhniki Stadium.

Earlier media reports confirmed that President Putin had invited former FIFA President Sepp Blatter to the event. Despite being banned from presiding over FIFA activities, Blatter may honour the invite to attend the ceremony.

Kremlin Spokesperson Dmitry Peskov had confirmed inviting US President Donald Trump to the World Cup opening ceremony. Albeit the White House have not clarified that President Trump will honour the invite.

There are other heads of states invited to the event, mostly from the Middle East countries.

Singers gracing the event

Robbie Williams (L) and Aida Garifullina (R). [Photo/Courtesy]

In the 80,000-seater Lukhniki Stadium, fans will be thrilled by the performance of British pop singer Robbie Williams. The 40-year old singer will be singing together with Russian soprano Aida Garifullina to the satisfaction of the fans. The duo will perform 30 minutes to the kick off pitting hosts Russia against Saudi Arabia. Other group members include pianist Denis Matsuev and global operas Netrebko, Yusif Eyvazov, Roberto Alanya, Ildar Abdrazakov, and Albina Shagimuratova

 This could be a major show of commitment to reconciliation between Britain and Russia after lengthy diplomatic tussles.

Other performances at the events will involve gymnasts and those playing the trampoline.

Ronaldo...

Ronaldo will be showing fans the World Cup trophy. [Photo/Courtesy]

Former World Cup winner and Brazilian football legend Ronaldo ‘Fenomeno’ Lima will then hold the trophy and show it to the thousands of fans seated at the stadium. This will bring the mood to the house showing how real the kick-off is knocking at the door step.

Theme song

Fans will have a moment of live performance of the theme song ‘Live it Up’ by Will Smith, Nicky Jam, Diplo and Era Istrefi at the stadium.  It remains unclear whether the trio will be in Russia but this song will be considered as a tradition.

This will come in handy with a performance of the FIFA anthem, and also the Russian national anthem as the hosts.

Lukhniki Stadium, features and history

This is a stadium worth accommodating over 80,000 people. It is one of the largest sports venues and has been a ground for some high profile matches, including Manchester United vs Chelsea match, when Red Devils won Champions League in 2008.

Moscow is a cosmopolitan city of 130 nationalities and has a population of 12.3 million people, according to FIFA website.

Kick-off: Russia vs Saudi Arabia

With the inaugural ceremony beginning almost one hour before, the match will kick off at 6PM East African Time.

Security beefed up

The security situation at the Red Square has been beefed as Russian security authorities are leaving nothing to chance.


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