Head of FIFA Gianni Infantino has said that football has the power to unite people and nations despite all the political conflicts existing in the world right now.
In an exclusive interview with Eyes On Events presenter and goalkeeping great Peter Schmeichel, the FIFA chief talked about the upcoming football showpiece in Russia, expressing confidence that it will be a safe and secure tournament.
Talking about recent tensions between the World Cup host nation and other countries, Infantino said that the football event will help to unite people and change their attitudes to Russia.
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“I’m focusing on football, that’s the key and that’s the secret. We have to focus on football. I think there are enough, sadly, people around the world who try to divide or argue or dispute or whatever, we have to try to unite. Football has this magic and this power of bringing people together,” the FIFA president said.
“Thanks to football, we can send messages of unity. Football is about bringing together, about enjoying and creating an atmosphere. We showed it to the world as well, a country like Russia with 150 million people who want to welcome the world in their country."
“I think football has this power to change the perception of people about the country. I’m sure that this World Cup in Russia at this particular time will have quite a significant impact,” he added.
Infantino said that football violence and riots occur everywhere, making security issues one of FIFA’s biggest concerns.
“Unfortunately, idiots are living everywhere and violence around football is happening all over the world as well, in Europe or South America or Africa. This is something that we always have to focus on generally. It’s not easy because violence is also reflection of society, but for a big event like the World Cup the attention is very much on [security measures],” he said.
The FIFA president assured fans that unprecedented security measures have been implemented by the Russian authorities to prevent possible riots and clashes between supporters during the World Cup.
“Of course it’s safe to go to Russia. It will be even safer to go to Russia during the World Cup because the authorities in Russia are very much aware of what the World Cup means. And the preparations in terms of security for the World Cup are beyond any other events,” he said
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“Obviously, those who want to go and enjoy football and parties – they should go to Russia, those who want to go to have riots, they’d better not go,” Infantino added.
He also voiced plans to attend games of all 32 World Cup participants who will play at 12 different venues in 11 host cities.
“I’m planning to watch all the teams and to be in all the venues at least once,” he said. “I want to do that. I want to experience this fantastic occasion, and it’s also a question of respect for those who are participating. The FIFA president has to be there for each team.”