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.


Godolphin happy with Thunder Snow ahead of Dubai World Cup defense

Updated 25 March 2019
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Godolphin happy with Thunder Snow ahead of Dubai World Cup defense

  • Five-year old bidding to become first horse to win back-to-back Dubai World Cups.
  • $12 million race takes place at Meydan on Saturday.

LONDON: Thunder Snow is preparing well as he bids to become the first horse to win back-to-back Dubai World Cups, according to Godolphin trainer Saeed bin Suroor.
The five-year-old memorably won the showcase $12 million race at Meydan by five and three-quarter lengths, winning in a track record time last year. He returned to the track on Super Saturday two weeks ago, finishing second in the Group 1 Al-Maktoum Challenge Round Three.
And Godolphin are expecting big things from him in the famous race. Bin Suroor, the most successful handler in the history of the 2000m dirt feature with eight winners to his name, is feeling confident.
“He did his final serious piece of work on Saturday and went very well indeed,” the Godolphin trainer said. “He needed his Super Saturday outing — his first run since November — badly and has come on a lot for it. We expect him to run a big race under conditions we know suit him, but obviously it is a good race.”
Thunder Snow has already made history as the only horse to win both the Group 2 UAE Derby and Group 1 Dubai World Cup, but if he is to win this Saturday then he will be revered for years to come.
One of his big rivals in the race will be Yoshida. Trained by Bill Mott he arrived in Dubai on March 19 in preparation for the cash-rich race. The Japanese-bred son of Heart’s Cry landed in the Emirate off a sixth-place finish in the inaugural Group 1 Pegasus World Cup Turf Invitational at Gulfstream Park.
He won the Turf Classic at Churchill Downs, as well as the prestigious Woodward at Saratoga last year and Riley Mott, assistant to his father Bob, said Yoshida is looking good ahead of the big race.
“He’s settled in really well,” he said. “He traveled great and we’re very happy with him. The facilities here are top class. This is my seventh time over here and we’re treated very well.”
Yoshida went out just after 7:00 a.m. in Monday to stretch his legs over the famous dirt track.
“He just had a routine gallop this morning and we let him stand in the gate. Nothing too serious,” Mott said.
Jose Ortiz, who has piloted Yoshida though his last two starts and was aboard for the Grade 1 score at Churchill Downs, will make his first appearance in Dubai. Mott said he expects Ortiz, who guided Yoshida to a closing fourth-place effort in the Breeders’ Cup Classic, will have plenty of options in the 2000m race.
“It sounds like there’s a lot of pace from the local horses, but we have a horse that’s pretty versatile in the way he runs,” Mott said. “He’s able to adapt to the pace scenario. It’s just a matter of how the race develops in front of him.”