June 19, 2019
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Putin honors FIFA’s Infantino for World Cup success

Moscow, May 23 (efe-epa).- Russian President Vladimir Putin on Thursday decorated FIFA President Gianni Infantino with the Order of Friendship for his contribution to the World Cup that took place in Russia over the summer, and for the development of soccer across the world.

“I would like to thank you for everything you have done during the preparations for the World Cup in Russia, for your good assessments of our work,” Putin told Infantino at a ceremony held in the Kremlin.

Putin, who also managed to get Saint Petersburg to host matches in the UEFA Euro 2020 tournament, said that FIFA can count on his country to collaborate in soccer development.

“We are always ready to assist,” Putin said.

He added: “I am sure that you will manage to accomplish all set tasks with your energy and organizational talent.”

Putin personally pinned the medal to Infantino’s lapel during an official ceremony in the Kremlin, in which a number of other politicians and cultural representatives were also decorated.

“It has been the best World Cup ever, and these are not my own words, they are everyone’s words,” Infantino said during the event.

He said that the medal he received was a symbol of friendship, that Russia made many friends thanks to the World Cup and “those ties will never be broken.”

He also thanked Putin in Russian for the World Cup and on behalf of the entire soccer world.

The medal, which was introduced in 1994, is dedicated as recognition to foreign personalities who have worked in favor of improving relations with Russia.

For Russia, the World Cup was a success, according to the government, not only because it has broken many stereotypes about the country, as Putin said last July, but also because of the more than three million tickets sold, a “huge” television audience and the visit of more than one million foreigners during the event.

In addition, the Russian national soccer team managed, surprisingly, to reach the World Cup quarterfinals, where they were eliminated by the eventual runner-up Croatia in a penalty shootout. EFE

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