Monday was an important day at the 2018 FIFA World Cup Russia as the competition’s Organising Committee in conjunction with FIFA organised an appreciation party for the thousands of volunteers that have made the tournament a success.
The Mundial is in its final week and over 10,000 individuals from different countries of the world volunteered to serve in varying capacities from the airports even to the toilets.
Monday was dedicated for a “Thank You Volunteers” event which began at the prestigious Luzhniki Stadium in Moscow and climaxed at the famous Red Square at the heart of the Russian capital with ACLSports Chief Football Writer Fisayo Dairo among the handful of accredited journalists at the events.
Present at both legs of the event were former Real Madrid stars Michel Salgado and Julio Baptista who are part of a group of FIFA Legends in Russia for the World Cup. The biggest football figure at the Luzhniki Stadium leg however was FIFA Secretary General Fatma Samoura.
In her “Thank You” address to the Volunteers, the Senegalese said in her already strained voice:
“With you, the World Cup is a reality.
“I always remember, few weeks ago, I was here. What captivated me was your glowing smile and I would like to tell you that you were the blood, the soul and heartbeat of the World Cup,” she told the volunteers.
Many participants of the Mundial have spoken glowingly about the reception accorded then by Russians and the hitch-free nature of the tournament in terms of logistics and organisation.
“I will like to tell you that people like me who visited Russia for the first time are leaving here with a totally different opinion of your country,” added Samoura.
Ms Samoura had a dancing session with the Volunteers while also participating in indoor games such as Table Tennis and Table Soccer alongside the former football stars.
Monday was the second rest day before action resumes on the pitch on Tuesday for the semi-final games. France will face Belgium at the Saint Petersburg Stadium in St Petersburg at 9pm local time (7pm in Nigeria) in the first semi-final game.
Fisayo Dairo reporting from Moscow.