Cage football and the search for Russian football culture-video
How will Americans be watching this World Cup?
Our latest World Cup team guide, launched this very morning, covers England’s first opponents, Tunisia:
Also today, you can look forward to some of the highlights of the Official Fifa World Cup 2018 portrait session. If you’re not sure how to react to this news, just copy Panama’s Luis Tejada.
Also today, I plan to bring you - in instalments - the full and official story of Zabivaka, “the coolest little grey wolf in Russia”, whose “journey from humble beginnings to 2018 Fifa World Cup Russia Official Mascot” will surprise and enthral. It is nearly 1,400 words long. Here his the once-humble wolf, hanging out with Cafu.
This morning we’ve been given further information on Thursday’s opening ceremony. Here’s what the Press Association is telling us:
Robbie Williams and Russian soprano Aida Garifullina will entertain the crowd at the opening ceremony of the World Cup at the Luzhniki Stadium.
They will be joined by Brazil’s two-time World Cup winner Ronaldo at Thursday’s show, which will be held just 30 minutes before the kick-off to the first match between Russia and Saudi Arabia.
“I’m so happy and excited to be going back to Russia for such a unique performance,” Williams said.
“I’ve done a lot in my career, and opening the FIFA World Cup to 80,000 football fans in the stadium and many millions all over the world is a boyhood dream.”
The underlying theme of celebrating not only football but also the host country will be represented by a performance from Garifullina.
“I never imagined I would be part of this huge celebration, the World Cup, happening in my own country,” the soloist from the Vienna State Opera said.
“The image that I will be presenting to the whole world will be very symbolic and associated with a dream coming to life.
“And, on 15 July, we will find out for whom this precious dream will come true, back on the same stage, after a month-long festival of football in Russia.”
Ronaldo was part of the triumphant Brazil squad at the 1994 World Cup, albeit he did not feature, and then claimed the Golden Boot with eight goals as he led his nation to the trophy eight years later.
The 41-year-old looks back fondly on past World Cup curtain-raisers and is relishing being involved at Russia 2018.
“The opening match is always a very symbolic one - it is that instant when you realise that the big moment you, as a player or fan, have been waiting for for four years has finally arrived,” he said.
“Of course it is also an emotional one for the hosts. After so much hard work, suddenly the whole world is gathered in your backyard to celebrate their love for football.
“I felt that in Brazil four years ago and I am now happy to share this excitement with the Russians as well.”