Russian President Vladimir Putin has urged FIFA to support the country’s legacy plans following last year’s World Cup in the country.

Twelve venues across 11 cities hosted matches during Russia’s staging of the 2018 World Cup, which ran from June 14 to July 15. Putin has previously stressed the importance of ensuring that venues used continue as football stadia in the long term.

Putin yesterday (Wednesday) met with FIFA president Gianni Infantino, seven months after the conclusion of the World Cup, to discuss the tournament’s legacy and how football can continue to be supported in the country.

Addressing Infantino, Putin said: “We are now actively engaged in the legacy of the World Cup. The task before us is to harness everything that was done for the World Cup, to use it effectively, and we are also counting on your support for that.

“I would like to thank you once again for your help in the preparation and delivery of the World Cup. To demonstrate our gratitude for this joint work, I signed a decree awarding you the Order of Friendship of the Russian Federation.”

Infantino said it was an honour to achieve the award, adding: “But this is not the end; this is only the beginning. We are here to discuss the legacy of the World Cup, so that we can interact even more closely in the future.

“The World Cup changed Russia, but above all the attitude of the world towards Russia. This was only possible thanks to your personal participation and to all the inhabitants of your country who took part in the preparation of this wonderful event. In spite of all the negative predictions, we witnessed a great sporting event hosted by a magnificent country, whose hospitality was enjoyed by the entire football community.”

A number of clubs who use World Cup stadia as their home venues have already benefited from an attendance boost following the tournament, with Volgograd and Nizhny Novgorod-based teams seeing their average attendances more than double.

Image: FIFA