06/14/2018, 09.52
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Best wishes from Kirill and Putin for the World Cup

by Vladimir Rozanskij

The patriarch supports Russia, but advises the Orthodox clergy to offer maximum hospitality and welcome to visitors to the country. Putin thanks the head of FIFA and recalls the Russians’ slogan: "Sport is outside politics". The 11 cities where the matches will take place are like a trip to "classic" and "profound" Russia. Russian women are advised to avoid "promiscuous" relationships with foreign athletes.

Moscow (AsiaNews) - A few hours before the start of the World Cup, the Patriarch of Moscow and all the Russias Kirill (Gundjaev) has expressed his good wishes for the success of the event, and for a good result from the Russian national team: "I hope this worldwide event will be a great success, and will reflect positively on the morale of our people" - declared Kirill yesterday at the opening of the session of the Ecclesiastical Superior Council in Moscow. "This - he added - will depend largely on the quality of the game of our national team, and here there is nothing left for us to do but to pray and hope that it will be more than dignified. And also trust in the good preparation of our athletes ".

The patriarch also recommended Orthodox clergy and all Russians offer a warm welcome to those who will go to Russia for the championships: "I would like to ask everyone to be ready to welcome, even in ecclesial structures, all the people who turn to the Russian Orthodox Church and show interest in the life of our communities; it is a duty of hospitality, but also a pastoral commitment and an opportunity to express our national character ". The supreme pastor of the Russian Orthodox Church therefore hopes to overcome the stereotype of an inaccessible and hostile Orthodox Church in its long medieval liturgies, without the capacity to forge personal relations and to welcome the distant, as indeed often happens in Russian parishes.

The championships open today and will continue until July 15. The matches will take place in 11 cities in Russia: Moscow, St. Petersburg, Sochi (on the Black Sea, home to the 2014 Winter Olympics), Kazan (capital of the Tatars region), Nizhny Novgorod (the third city of Russia, at the confluence of the great rivers Volga and Oka), Saransk (chief town of the Mordvini, area of ​​Stalinist lagers), Samara (another big city on the Volga), Rostov-on-Don (historical city of the Cossacks, close to the areas of the Ukrainian conflict), Volgograd (formerly Stalingrad), Kaliningrad (in the Russian enclave of East Prussia, formerly Konigsberg, birthplace of Kant) and Ekaterinburg (the only city beyond the Urals, site of the killing of Nicholas II and his family). It will therefore also be a trip to not only "classic" Russia,  but also the lesser known “hinterland”, in the hopes to showcase a different greatness, a more human and diversified Russia than the one that is commonly perceived.

At least this is the wish of President Vladimir Putin,  who addressed the 68th FIFA Congress in Moscow, in the large Exococentr exhibition complex on the eve of the start of the Championships. After thanking FIFA head Gianni Infantino  for believing in Russia even in these complicated years, Putin stressed that "for our country the world championships have great significance: it realizes the dreams of many of our fans. We have built twelve advanced design stadiums with extensive infrastructure, but above all we will welcome a huge amount of football fans from all over the world ". Recalling that the slogan that the Russians have always proposed to the world is "Sport is outside politics" and therefore an opportunity to bring even those who are distant, the president expressed his ardent desire "that all guests realize the affability and openness of heart of our people, and understand our authentic culture [samobytnoj, an untranslatable term to express the identity or Russian "soul"] and appreciate the exceptional natural gifts of Russia, wishing to return to us".

Several foreign leaders are arriving in Moscow for the opening ceremonies, many of which were announced by Kremlin spokesman Dmitri Peskov. The Russian president has already begun several talks with the presidents of Azerbaijan, Rwanda, Bolivia, Lebanon and Armenia. Several senior North Korean officials have already arrived in Moscow, such as the president of the National Assembly Kim en Nam, with whom they will assess the prospects after the meeting between Kim and Trump (with an envious Moscow ).

Meanwhile, Tamara Pletneva's chairman of the Duma's Family Affairs Committee has advised Russian women to avoid promiscuous relations with foreign athletes, especially those of "other races", to avoid the phenomenon of "1980's children" , the children born after the 1980 Moscow Olympics whose mothers were then abandoned left on their own to raise them, creating considerable hardships for all involved.

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