>> From bottom of my heart, thank you.>> When this man decided to spend billions on soccer stadia and World Cup structures, it's safe to say he had one thing in mind, prestige for Russia.>> And we are honored to be in this tough and fair fight.>> Except a lot has changed since Russian President Vladimir Putin's winning 2010 bid that clinched the tournament.
Annexing Crimea, intervening in Syria, allegations of meddling in US elections, and accusations of using a nerve agent on UK soil. On paper, the World Cup is supposed to be Putin's mainstream moment on the global stage, but instead, Moscow finds itself pillared as an international pariah. There are striking similarities with another major Russian sporting event, the 1980 Moscow Olympics.
Then the US led the boycott after a Soviet invasion of Afghanistan. Now, 38 years later, modern Russia finds itself in the throes of damaging Western sanctions. In fact, some of the stadia has been built with European expertise having to carefully navigate US sanctions. And yet, the show will again go on.
>> There have been a lot of threats that the World Cup would be rescheduled or held in a different city, in a different country, or a lot of teams would ignore coming to Russia. But the fact that neither of those things happened may be considered as a victory for Putin and Russian government.
>> One senior Russian government source recently told Reuters' quote, this is isolation, then we are enjoying it. And given the recent G7 summit that show cracks between the US and other western leaders, it could be an opportune moment.>> I think especially it would be interesting, how could the Russian government use this event to contribute to breaking the partnership between the United States and Europe.
>> June the 14th marks the start of a tournament known as the greatest show on earth. And despite western sanctions for a month, Putin will still be ringmaster.>>