Thursday, October 18, 2018 | ePaper
World Cup kicks off
Sports Desk :
The FIFA World Cup kicks off in Russia Thursday as the host nation take on Saudi Arabia in front of 80,000 people in Moscow after President Vladimir Putin officially declares the tournament open, report agencies.
Â British pop star Robbie Williams, who is best known for his hit single "Angels", sang alongside Russian soprano Aida Garifullina shortly before Russia face Saudi Arabia in the first match of the FIFA World Cup at Moscow's Luzhniki Stadium.
Williams had said that performing at the FIFA World Cup was "a boyhood dream" and it would be "an unforgettable show".
Russia spent $13 billion to put on the event with matches taking place in 11 host cities.
Group play runs through June 28 with the knockout phase beginning June 30. The World Cup champion will be crowned July 15. Brazil, France, Spain, Argentina and defending champion Germany are among the favorites to win the 32-team tournament.
In addition to fans watching the games in Russia, television broadcasts will reach massive audiences around the world.
Football's governing body FIFA said during the last world cup in 2014 an estimated 3 billion people watched at least part of a game during the tournament, while 1 billion tuned in for the final match between Germany and Argentina.