The 2018 FIFA world Cup opened in Mosciw on Thursday with a grandiose ceremony attended by President Putin and a number of world leaders mainly from former Soviet republics.
In a short address President Putin said that billions of people around the world are united in one football team and no rifts are capable of overpowering that unity.
"Just stop to think: devout football fans number billions around the globe and this is not an exaggeration. Whereer we may live, whatever traditions we may follow, love of football unites us into one team. All of us share love of this spectacular, bright and uncompromising game," Putin said at the opening ceremony of the 2018 FIFA World Cup finals. "This explains why all members of this team understand and feel each other so well."
"This unity, which no language, ideology or faith distinctions can overpower, is the source of the great strength of football and sport in general and of the strength of its humanistic ideals."
"Our task is to preserve this power and unity for the generations to come in the name of sports and stronger peace and mutual understanding among peoples," Putin said.
He congratulated "the large, multi-ethnic and harmonious world football family upon the beginning of the main global tournament.
The first game, between Russia and Saudi Arabia took place immediately after the opening ceremony. Russia won 5 - 0.
Referring to the regional situation, the President of the European Council said "Georgia is situated in a challenging neighbourhood, where it plays a crucial role as facilitator and bridge builder"