2018 FIFA World Cup: Keep Your Eyes on The Ball, World!

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The Russia Fifa World Cup 2018 is around the corner. The tournament gets underway today that is, June 14 and lasts until July 15, with 32 nations taking each other on in the hope of being named the greatest football team in the world. Call it football’s Christmas or Eid, it’s June and the World Cup is here to charm the people, the politicians and the players.

Sports festivals are never bereft of politics or economics, Russia’s head of state can do without both. A smoothly organized World Cup will definitely add to president Vladimir Putin’s standing and Russia’s stature as far as geopolitics is concerned post the Crimean disturbance. Once the ball starts to bounce the grammar of politics will start pursuing a tangential narrative driven by consummate passion, nationalism and hero-worship.

Earlier a budget of 20 billion was earmarked by the Russian government but later slashed it to $10 billion for the preparations of the World Cup. During the World Cup, free public transport services are being offered for ticketholders.

Russia will play in the opening match at the Luzhniki Stadium in Moscow on 14 June against Saudi Arabia, the two lowest ranked teams of the tournament at the time of the final draw. The tournament logo was unveiled on 28 October 2014 by cosmonauts at the International Space Station. The official mascot for the tournament was unveiled 21 October 2016, was Zabivaka, an anthropomorphic wolf dressed in the colors of the Russian national team.

There are 8 groups with 4 teams in each group

Group A – Russia, Saudi Arabia, Egypt, Uruguay

Group B – Portugal, Spain, Morocco, Iran

Group C – France, Australia, Peru, Denmark

Group D – Argentina, Iceland, Croatia, Nigeria

Group E – Brazil, Switzerland, Costa Rica, Serbia

Group F – Germany, Mexico, Sweden, South Korea

Group G – Belgium, Panama, Tunisia, England

Group I – Poland, Senegal, Columbia, Japan

Yes, Russia has its issues, like all the countries that are still complaining about this year’s World Cup hosts. Embrace the world and the World Cup and be more open and flexible. Let the football start and everything be, at least temporarily, kept at bay. Television will make the real world even more real, reaching more homes as progress in numbers are the only constant in our ever-expanding markets. So let’s tie the boots and pull up the socks and give it one more kick.