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Putin ‘proud’ of Russia’s handling of World Cup


Moscow (AFP) – President Vladimir Putin said Russia could be “proud” of its hosting of the football World Cup, judging it a success “in every respect” after Sunday’s final.

“We can surely be proud of how we organised this tournament,” Putin said in televised comments after France’s victory against Croatia. 

“We have made this grand event a success in every respect.”

He added that foreign visitors holding “fan ID” cards for the World Cup could have visa-free entry to Russia for the rest of 2018.

“Foreign supporters who currently have fan IDs will be able to benefit from multiple entries into the Russian Federation without a visa until the end of the year,” Putin said.

Despite high diplomatic tension between Moscow and the West, world football officials and personalities as well as world leaders have lined up to praise Russia’s hosting of the tournament.

Russian leaders revelled in Sunday night’s dramatic match after French players lifted the trophy, watched by Putin and French President Emmanuel Macron and Croatian President Kolinda Grabar-Kitarovic, both of whom Putin said he had congratulated.

“A score of 4-2 in a final — I can’t remember seeing a score like that and few people could,” Putin said.

“Both teams were magnificent… I am sure everyone liked the way they played, and so did I.”

Russian Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev wrote on Instagram: “A marvellous final! France are champions. Russia has organised the best World Cup.”

The Russian foreign ministry congratulated France for its victory in an official tweet.

“Congratulations to the @FrenchTeam for their second title and thank you for this feast of football!” it wrote.

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