Ronaldo, Maradona … Putin? See how Russian president compares to the greats in Fifa World Cup kick-about
Soccer’s governing body mark 100 days before the start of the showcase event with Twitter video
President Vladimir Putin played football with Fifa boss Gianni Infantino in the Kremlin on Tuesday as Russia marked 100 days before the start of the World Cup.
The footage was released by football’s world governing body in a tweet featuring legends of the beautiful game juggling the ball and doing tricks.
The clip ended with Putin heading the ball back to Infantino after a heavily edited kick-about set to Rimsky-Korsakov’s Flight of the Bumblebee.
“Some people just can’t wait for the greatest show on earth,” Fifa said in the tweet.
— FIFA World Cup (@FIFAWorldCup) March 6, 2018
Others playing around with the official Telstar 18 World Cup ball included ex-England midfielder Wayne Rooney and Argentina’s Diego Maradona.
Brazil’s Ronaldo juggled the ball by the beach while Sweden’s Thomas Brolin had his fun in the snow.
Putin is best known for learning to skate and playing ice hockey with government officials and Russian veterans of the winter sport.
But the judo black belt is a sports fanatic who is hoping to use the World Cup to showcase Russia and boost its image at a time of frayed relations with the West.
Russia is hosting its first World Cup on in June and July in 11 cities stretching from its western exclave of Kaliningrad near Poland to Yekaterinburg in the Urals.
Numerous Russian cities are planning events to commemorate 100 days before the start of the 32-team tournament.
Moscow is staging an open air concert for 6,000 volunteers while Russia’s northern capital Saint Petersburg is unveiling a countdown clock.
“It is important to show Russia the way it really is: open, hospitable and modern,” sports minister Pavel Kolobkov was quoted as saying on Tuesday by RIA Novosti.