The World Cup is not only a sporting event, but also a political event. Not only in the sense of promoting the image of real Russia in the world, but also as a convenient occasion for high-level meetings and negotiations. In the coming month, many politicians from all over the world will come to our country. What does this mean for Moscow?
Гостями открывающегося чемпионата будут не только болельщики со всего мира, но и руководящие кадры со всего мира. Конечно, чемпионат – это не Олимпиада, на церемонию открытия которой главы государств, премьеры и министры приезжают в очень большом количестве (как это было на играх в Сочи четыре года назад). На футбол короли, президенты и премьеры приезжают, как правило, лишь тогда, когда их команда выходит в финал или полуфинал – тогда это уже общенациональный праздник, игнорировать это невозможно. Ну а те руководители, кто понимает, что им не дождаться выхода своих соотечественников в финал, приезжают на обычные матчи – поддержать своих.
To the past championship, which was held in 2014 in Brazil, even timed the BRICS summit. And although by that time the Russian team had already dropped out of the fight, Vladimir Putin gladly went to the final match. He sat next to Angela Merkel, whose team then beat Argentina. Whether Germany will retain the league title this time is unknown, but there is no doubt that if the German national team reaches the final, Merkel will again be next to Putin.
Promised to come and Emmanuel Macron - however, for this the French still need to break through at least to the semifinals (before the French president is unlikely to arrive). The president of Brazil, Michel Temer, will also arrive, without waiting for the final, in which the Brazilians can not get into again. But Argentine President Mauricio Macri, although he canceled his trip to Russia - the financial crisis in the country, inflation records, and the head of state will stay at home - will probably change his mind if Argentina again breaks through to the final.
But we will find out about this in a month, and for the time being it is known for the most part about those who will be at the opening ceremony.
The most indicative - it will come and the leaders of those countries that did not hit the championship.
And not only from the post-Soviet space. Although this group is the largest: seven presidents of the countries of the Eurasian Union and the CIS - Lukashenko, Nazarbayev, Aliev, Mirziev, Rahmon, Jeenbekov, Dodon; Prime Minister of Armenia and the Heads of Abkhazia and South Ossetia. And their motives are clear: the demonstration of allied relations with Russia.
Just like the arrival of the Chinese delegation led by Vice-Premier Sun Chunlan and the second person in the vertical of the DPRK's government, Kim Yong Nam (who will probably give the message from Kim Jong-no and talk about the meeting with Trump). But the prime minister of Lebanon, the presidents of Bolivia, Paraguay and Rwanda, whose teams are not in the championship, all use the sporting event as a good excuse to visit Russia and hold talks with Putin.
And if the Lebanese Hariri is a frequent guest of the Russian president, Putin meets regularly with Bolivian Morales, then Rwandan leaders have not been seen in Russia for a long time. And in the case of Mario Abdo Benitez, the elected (but not yet inaugurated) president of Paraguay, it is also about the first visit of its head to Russia in two hundred years of this country's existence.
For Latinos, the championship is generally a very big holiday, and if Argentina and Brazil are its indispensable participants, then for Panama, the first time breaking through to the championship, this is just a historical event. Not surprisingly, the president of the Republic Juan Carlos Varela will attend the games of his team in Russia.
And Africans are also happy - although they play much worse than Hispanics. Therefore, all black Africa in the championship is represented by only two teams. Senegal's President Maki Sall generally took leave to accompany his team, and Nigerian President Mohamad Bukhari did not take such drastic measures - still the largest country of the continent with almost 200-million population will not just leave for a long time. However, the 75-year-old president is also going to come to Russia on a visit, and he may well be at the time of the World Cup.
East Asia is also not very represented in the championship - only two teams, but their political representation will be on the level. South Korean President Mun Jae Ying will arrive in a week, and with an official visit. Japan will be represented both at the ministerial level (but not by Abe Prime Minister, and then he has already become a frequent visitor to Russia, which makes Americans nervous), and the honorary president of the Japanese Football Association Princess Takamado will come to the imperial one.
European monarchies will be accurately represented by the King of Belgium, but if the final is, for example, Spain, you can wait and King Felipe. The president of Switzerland and a number of European right-wingers will arrive. So, Austria will be Vice-Chancellor Strage (Austrian Freedom Party), and from Germany - Interior Minister Seehofer (CSU leader, former Bavarian premier). Both are known as supporters of the EU's relations with Russia, so their trips are also a distinct political gesture. It is a pity that the Italian team did not get to the championship, and then the ideal company, Seehofer and Strach, would be Italy's Deputy Prime Minister Matteo Salvini.
And the UN Secretary General Gutierrez successfully uses his official position: he will visit the championship as the head of this international organization, and he will be ill for his native Portugal (whose prime minister he was for many years).
Yes, the boycott of the championship by the authorities, who were going to announce the championship in response to the case of the Violins Englishmen, no one but them, and does not think. The British delegation will not (and Prince William, who heads the football association, and one of the ministers) could come, and London did not support the rest of the world, except for Iceland and Ukraine. British, by the way, this time very little and in the football plan - from their four teams this time only one broke through. Actually, she herself is England.
But who unexpectedly a lot in this championship - so this is the Islamic countries, most recently were even more exotic than Africans. Immediately five Muslim teams: Egypt, Tunisia, Morocco, Saudi Arabia and Iran. The secret is simple: the first three countries belong territorially to Africa and were selected from its group. Having displaced, thus, its southern neighbors. The King of Morocco came to our country last year, so if there will not be a miracle and his team will not reach the finals, we should not wait for it. Like the 91-year-old president of Tunisia es Sebsi.
But just two Islamic teams were in the same group with Russia. And if the Egyptian president, Field Marshal Sisi limited himself to calling for the national team "to make his people happy", then Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed will personally attend the opening ceremony of the championship on Thursday. For the actual ruler of the richest country of the Islamic world, this will be the fifth visit in three years to Russia.
So for some of the strongest of the world this football championship is a good occasion to see Vladimir Putin. And to discuss with him a variety of problems - from military cooperation to the Korean issue, from the war in Syria to oil prices. Regardless of who wins on the football field, on geopolitical Russia in a clear win.