World Cup teams to learn fate at Moscow draw ceremony

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Moscow (dpa) – Around 1,300 people, including Russian President
Vladimir Putin, are set to gather in the State Kremlin Palace in
Moscow Friday for a World Cup draw being televised live around the
globe.
Hosts Russia, defending champions Germany and 30 other teams will
discover their opponents for the 21st World Cup, due to be played in
11 cities and 12 stadiums from June 14-July 15.
Russia will kick off the tournament on June 14 at Moscow’s Luzhniki
Stadium, which is also the venue for the final.
The draw comes as Russia faces a potential ban at the 2018 Winter
Olympics in Pyeongchang over doping, following the exclusion of its
track and field athletes at the 2016 Rio Games.
It will also be the first World Cup tournament under new leadership
at world governing body FIFA after the corruption scandals which led
to football bans for leading officials including former president
Joseph Blatter.
Putin now welcomes to the Kremlin new FIFA president Gianni
Infantino, who along with 30 of the 32 national team coaches present,
will see a 60-minute star-studded show.
Former England striker Gary Lineker is co-hosting the draw with
Russian sports journalist Maria Komandnaya and will be assisted by a
host of former greats including Argentina’s Diego Maradona,
ex-England goalkeeper Gordan Banks and 91-year-old Russian Nikita
Simonyan.
Local television personality Ivan Urgant will host the full show,
with musical performances by Russian pop star Alsou, opera singer
Ildar Abdrazakov and actress Larisa Dolina.