Russian President Vladimir Putin and FIFA president Gianni Infantino attend a meeting of the Supervisory Board of the 2018 FIFA World Cup Russia Organising Committee in the Black Sea resort of Sochi on May 3, 2018. / AFP PHOTO / SPUTNIK / Alexey NIKOLSKY
FIFA President, Gianni Infantino, yesterday thanked Russia’s president, Vladmir Putin, and his people for giving the world the ‘best World Cup ever’ and hoped that the next hosts, Qatar, would emulate the fantastic atmosphere created by the European nation.
Speaking at the Kremlin, where Russia handed over the hosting baton to Qatar yesterday, Infantino said the hosts had justified FIFA’s insistence that they stage the 2018 edition of the competition despite stiff opposition, adding that the World Cup has changed many peoples’ perception of Russia.
The handover means that the official countdown to 2022 edition has begun.At the ceremony, which also had Qatari Emir Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad al-Thani in attendance, Putin said: “We are proud of what we did for fans of this wonderful sport. We ourselves, the whole country, got an enormous amount of pleasure from interacting with soccer, with the world of soccer, with the fans who came here from all over the globe.“I am sure that our friends from Qatar will be able to host the 2022 FIFA World Cup on the same high level.
We are, of course, ready to share the experience we acquired in holding the World Cup this year, along with our friends.”As part of the ceremony, Putin handed an official World Cup ball to Infantino, who then handed it on to the emir.
Qatari Emir Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad al-Thani said his country would apply all its efforts to making a success of the 2022 World Cup, adding, “we hope to overcome all the difficulties.”
He also promised that Qatar would try to surpass Russia’s success on the pitch, by getting beyond the quarterfinals.“Although it will be hard to repeat that success as we’re a small country, but we are very keen on sport,” he said.