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Russia and Saudi Arabia start the World Cup after the opening ceremony

MOSCOW, Russia – The World Cup began in Russia on Thursday when the host country faced Saudi Arabia in front of 80,000 people in Moscow after President Vladimir Putin officially declared the tournament open.

Russia spends more than 13,000 million dollars (11 billion euros) on the celebration of the masterpiece of football, the most important event in the country since the Moscow Summer Olympic Games of 1980. Minutes before After the game started at the Luzhniki Stadium in Moscow, Putin said: "I congratulate all of you at the beginning of the most important championship in the world."

The accumulation has been affected by the controversy and diplomatic scandals and has shone a light on the challenges facing Putin's Russia. On the day of the draper, Russia freed Putin's main opposition figure, Alexei Navalny, from jail after serving a 30-day sentence for organizing an illegal protest.

The excitement has been building constantly in Moscow, with thousands of Saudi fans in green and white arriving in the city for the game. British pop star Robbie Williams performed at the opening ceremony at Luzhniki, which will also host the final on July 15. World Cup favorites enter the fray this weekend.

Brazil and superstar Neymar are looking for a sixth world crown while Germany, who won their fourth World Cup in Brazil four years ago, will be determined to draw with the Brazilians. France boasts possibly the most talented squad, while Lionel Messi is desperate to repair the defeat of Argentina in the 2014 final.

The money that is lavished in the tournament will boost Putin's prestige at home by offering many of the 11 host cities their first facelifts in generations. Cities like Saransk were sleepy outposts with decaying buildings until the reconstruction of the World Cup put them firmly in the 21st century.

The tournament also offers Putin the opportunity to project Russia as a global player who is accepted and respected even when disagreeing with the United States. He is trying to do it despite the fact that Russia was hit by international sanctions after its invasion of Crimea in Ukraine in 2014.

Moscow's military support for the regime of Bashar al-Assad in Syria and the alleged meddling in the 2016 US elections on behalf of President Donald Trump they only deepened their worst distance with the West since The Cold War. Putin hopes that the most watched event on the planet will give Russia the "soft power" necessary to capture the hearts and minds of a skeptical world.

The Russian authorities have done everything possible to ensure that the image of the country does not get dirty. The bloody English fans took about 200 Russian thugs at Euro 2016 in France, influenced both the preparations and any diplomatic dispute.

Neo-Nazi fanatics who organize massive forest struggles and shout racist insults at players have been a feature of Russian stadiums for years. The anti-discrimination network Fare said the Russian football federation was making things worse by punishing those who reacted to the racist abuse "by ignoring the perpetrators."

Security services have blocked or restricted the movement of hundreds to make sure they do nothing to tarnish the image of Russia.

The preparations for the 2010 Spain winners are shattered after coach Julen Lopetegui was fired just two days before his first game against Portugal on Friday. He had angered his federation taking the position of manager of Real Madrid.

Neymar, the most expensive player in the world, recovered from a broken bone in the foot in time. The Egyptian coach said prolific striker Mohamed Salah is "almost 100 percent" playing in his first game against Uruguay on Friday after receiving intensive treatment for the shoulder injury he suffered playing against Real Madrid in the final. of the Champions League.

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