Reuters – Russia welcomed the world to the World Cup on Thursday as cheerful fans streamed into Moscow and 10 other cities. While Western countries chose not to send senior representatives to the opening ceremony, there are no sporting boycotts like the one that marred the 1980 Moscow Olympics.

Putin hailed the world soccer governing body FIFA for keeping to a motto of “sport without politics”. Speaking on Wednesday, as FIFA chose to host the 2026 tournament in the United States, Canada and Mexico, the Russian leader spoke of sport’s potential to promote “humanity without borders”.

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