Vladimir Putin plays football with Gianni Infantino 100 days before the World Cup

Russian president Vladimir Putin hosted FIFA president in the Kremlin and even had a kickabout to mark 100 days until the World Cup. (Screenshot)
Updated 06 March 2018
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Vladimir Putin plays football with Gianni Infantino 100 days before the World Cup

MOSCOW: President Vladimir Putin played football with FIFA boss Gianni Infantino in the Kremlin on Tuesday as a festive Russia marked 100 days before the start of the World Cup.
The footage from Putin’s reception office 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 one back to Infantino after a heavily edited kickabout 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.
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 by the beach while Sweden’s Thomas Brolin had his fun in the snow.

Putin is known for his sporting prowess, taking part in Judo matches, skating, diving and playing ice hockey.
A judo black belt and all round sports fan he is hoping to use the World Cup to showcase Russia and boost its image at a time of fraid relations with the West.
Russia is hosting its first World Cup on June 14-July 15 in 11 host 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.
Russia’s preparations for the showpiece event are going largely according to schedule but still being clouded by scandal and global disputes.
Fan violence that made Russians infamous at the Euro 2016 in France returned last month during a Europa League match in Spain between Spartak Moscow and Athletic Bilbao.
Organizers hope the February 22 insident in which a handful of Russians were arrested and a policeman died of a heart attack does not frighten away global fans.
Tensions with the West have been compounded by the ignomy of Russians being forced to perform under a neutral Olympic flag at the Winter Games in Pyongyang over doping allegations.
But Russian national team coach Stanislav Cherchesov said he hoped the World Cup would improve people’s attitude toward his country.
“The most important thing is to come to Russia with an open heart and to try to understand our country and the places you are visiting,” Cherchesov said in an interview released by FIFA.
“As we say in Russia, better to see something once than to hear about it a hundred times.”
The tournament kicks of when Russia hosts Saudi Arabia in Moscow’s renovated Luzhniki Stadium on June 14.


Romelu Lukaku, Eden Hazard beat Tunisia and power Belgium to brink of World Cup last 16

Updated 48 min 2 sec ago
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Romelu Lukaku, Eden Hazard beat Tunisia and power Belgium to brink of World Cup last 16

  • Romelu Lukaku drew level with Cristiano Ronaldo at the top of the World Cup goalscoring charts on Saturday
  • Belgium captain Eden Hazard scored in either half, including an early penalty at the Spartak Stadium

MOSCOW: Romelu Lukaku drew level with Cristiano Ronaldo at the top of the World Cup goalscoring charts on Saturday, scoring twice as Belgium moved to the brink of the last 16 after a 5-2 romp against Tunisia.
The victory leaves the Red Devils top of Group G with two wins ahead of their clash on Thursday against England, who play Panama on Sunday.
After also scoring twice in the opening 3-0 win against Panama, Manchester United’s Lukaku showed clinical finishing with two first-half goals in Moscow, matching Ronaldo’s tally in Russia.
Not to be outdone, Belgium captain Eden Hazard scored in either half, including an early penalty at the Spartak Stadium, before substitute Michy Batshuayi added their fifth.
Tunisia’s consolation goals came from defender Dylan Bronn and captain Wahbi Khazri.
The Belgians were criticized by coach Roberto Martinez for starting slowly against Panama in their first group match but flew out of the blocks in Moscow.
Hazard — having been on the receiving end of some bruising tackles in Belgium’s opener — was sent tumbling after just five minutes but converted the penalty to open his Russian account.
Midfielder Ferjani Sassi picked up an early booking for complaining when Tunisia’s appeals for a penalty fell on deaf ears, just before Belgium added their second goal.
Ali Maaloul’s weak pass on the halfway line was collected by Dries Mertens, who sprinted away and put Lukaku clear.
The striker coolly hit his shot inside the far post, just past the outstretched glove of Tunisia keeper Farouk Ben Mustapha, in the 16th minute.
Tunisia responded two minutes later, Bronn leaping highest to head home a free-kick from his skipper Khazri on 18 minutes, only to be later carried off after landing awkwardly following a collision.
With half-time approaching, the Belgians grabbed their third goal.
After earlier squandering two clear chances created by Kevin De Bruyne, Lukaku converted his third opportunity just before the half-time whistle.
Thomas Meunier put him in behind the defense and Lukaku tucked his shot away, celebrating with De Bruyne, who started the move.
The Manchester City midfield maestro turned provider again after the break for Hazard.
The Chelsea star sprinted onto De Bruyne’s lofted pass, held off two defenders, rounded keeper Ben Mustapha and tapped home Belgium’s fourth goal in the 51st minute.
With one eye on the England game, Martinez took off Lukaku, then Hazard as the half wore on and for the final 22 minutes brought on Batshuayi, who could have scored five.
The Borussia Dortmund forward had a chance cleared off the line, was twice denied by Ben Mustapha’s saves and hit the crossbar, finally converting a cross for Belgium’s fifth goal.
Tunisia captain Khazri grabbed their second goal just before the final whistle of their second defeat in Russia.