Fans visiting Russia to watch the 2018 FIFA World Cup will not require visas to enter the country, Vladimir Putin has announced in a Ceremony to mark the handing over of hosting rights from Brazil to the next host nation.

In a Ceremony in which Brazilian President Dilma Rousseff also participated, Blatter presented Putin with a signed certificate to mark the handover, while the two leaders also received official match balls.President Putin vowed that the next edition of the quadrennial event will be “an unforgettable football feast”.

“We will do all we can to organise the event on the highest level,” he vowed.

“We successfully hosted the Winter Olympics in Sochi and now know exactly what a challenge it is to organise an event of such calibre.

“I want to congratulate President Rousseff on how the World Cup was organised.

“Football helps to solve social problems.

“Our task is to create the best possible conditions for the coaches, players, experts and fans, and I am grateful to President Blatter and his colleagues from FIFA for the honour to organise the World Cup.”

During halftime of the match, a commercial designed by Los Angeles-based advertising agency Adore Creative promoting the next edition of the quadrennial tournament was also showcased.

Blatter also reiterated that “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”.”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,” he added.

Russia has already waved visa requirements for athletes competing in major sporting events in what is being hailed as a “decade of sport” for the world’s largest country, with an accreditation enough for athletes, officials and media representatives to attend the Sochi 2014 Winter Olympic and Paralympic Games earlier this year.

But in what can be interpreted as an attempt to replicate the high number of international fans flocking to Brazil 2014 over the last month, this has now been extended to include supporters as well players, team personnel and other foreign staff at Russia 2018.

The move is unprecedented throughout the 84-year-long history of the competition, Putin claimed to the ITAR-Tass news agency.

 

Matches will take place across Russia, including at the Luzhniki Stadium in Moscow in which the 1980 Olympics and the 2008 Champions League Final were held ©Getty ImagesMatches will take place across Russia, including at the Luzhniki Stadium in Moscow in which the 1980 Olympics and the 2008 Champions League Final were held  ©Getty Images

While Sochi 2014 led to the redevelopment of a single city, the World Cup will present an even bigger challenge with a radical overhaul needed of sports, tourist and transport infrastructure throughout the entire country.
The 2018 tournament will be the first time that Russia has hosted the global footballing competition, with matches due to be played in 12 cities across the nation, including Moscow, St. Petersburg, Kazan and Yekaterinburg.Moscow’s iconic Luzhniki stadium, which hosted the 1980 Olympics, the 2008 Champions League final and 2013 World Athletics Championships, is being transformed into an 81,000-seat arena fit to hold the opening match and the final, while Saint Petersburg’s 70,000-seat Gazprom Arena is expected to be ready by May 2016.

Matches will also be held at the Fisht Olympic Stadium in Sochi, with capacity there to be increased to 45,000 seats.

Sports Minister Vitaly Mutko initially estimated the total cost of the 2018 World Cup at RUB680 billion (£12 billion/$20 billion/€15 billion), with around 50 per cent to come from eight regional budgets and the remainder from private investment.

Although Brazil’s humiliating 7-1 defeat to eventual winners Germany does not appear to have dampened enthusiasm too much so far, one way Russia could boost the prospects of a successful tournament is by an improved performance on the pitch,

This comes after Fabio Capello’s side failed to make it out of the group stages in Brazil after recording draws against South Korea and Algeria and a loss to Belgium.