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Greens call on EU governments to stay away from Russia World Cup

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Rebecca Harms, an expert on Eastern Europe of the Greens/EFA group in the European Parliament, has initiated an open letter calling on EU governments to stay away from the FIFA World Cup taking place in Russia in June, reported Euractiv (France).

Sixty Members of the European Parliament from 16 member states and 5 different political groups (Greens/EFA, EPP, S&D, ALDE and ECR) are supporting the call.

The letter reads that the poisoning of a former Russian spy in Britain last month “was just the latest chapter in Vladimir Putin’s mockery of our European values.”

Britain blames Russia for the poisoning of Sergei Skripal and his daughter, Yulia, with a nerve agent — a charge that Moscow fiercely denies.

The letter also cites “indiscriminate bombings of schools, hospitals, and civilian areas in Syria; the violent military invasion in Ukraine; systematic hacking; disinformation campaigns; election meddling; trying to destabilize our societies and to weaken and divide the EU.”

“All this doesn’t make for a good World Cup host,” it adds.

“While we agree that sport can help build metaphorical bridges, as long as Putin is blowing up real ones in Syria, we cannot pretend this World Cup is just like any other major sporting event,” the letter also reads.

Rebecca Harms said on Friday (20 April) that Putin is responsible for the occupation and war in Ukraine.

“He supports the brutal dictator and torturer Assad. The Russian army is responsible for horrendous war crimes in the war in Syria. […] He is not a friendly host as long as he supports right-wing extremist and anti-democratic parties in the EU, and tries to meddle in elections. Democratic governments should not contribute to Putin’s self-staging as the strong man, whom the great and powerful of the world honour”.

The green politician said nobody should forget that the Russian army occupied Crimea only three days after the Winter Olympics in Sochi ended on 23 February 2014.

“This shows how serious he was four years ago about the Olympic idea of mutual understanding between nations”, she said.

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The world’s governing football body, FIFA, announced the opening of the 3rd and final stage of ticket sales for matches of the 2018 FIFA World Cup, which kicks off in Russia in less than two months, reported TASS (Russia).

Ticket sales’ Phase 3, dubbed as the "Last Minute Sales," runs starting April 18 up until the final match day of the competition in July and the remaining tickets are available for purchase on a first-come first-serve basis.

"With less than two months left until the start of the biggest single-sport event on the planet, fans across the globe will have another opportunity to apply for tickets for the 2018 FIFA World Cup in Russia," the FIFA said in a statement.

The last-minute sales phase was launched on Wednesday, April 18, at 12:00 Moscow time (9:00 a.m. GMT) for fans to be able "to purchase tickets online, subject to availability, in real time and on a first-come, first-served basis," the statement said.

According to the FIFA, "1,698,049 tickets have already been allocated to football supporters from all over the world," via the official FIFA website since the launch of Phase One of ticket sales in September 2017.

"Most of these tickets have been allocated to Russian fans (796,875), followed by fans from the USA (80,161), Brazil (65,863), Colombia (60,199), Germany (55,136), Mexico (51,736), Argentina (44,882), Peru (38,544), China (36,841), Australia (34,628) and England (30,711) - the top-ten countries from abroad," the FIFA announced summing up the results after previous two phases of ticket sales.

The organization also said that it resumed the sales of the fourth category tickets as well as the sale of special tickets for spectators with limited abilities.

"Tickets for all matches will be available," the FIFA stated. "This includes category 4 tickets for selected matches, which are exclusively reserved for Russian residents. Fans are advised to place their order as soon as this sales phase opens, as high demand is expected and tickets are likely to sell out very quickly."

Ticket prices for FIFA Confederations and World Cup tournaments are usually divided into three categories, while the global football organization visas the price for each category. A special fourth category, which is the cheapest one, was introduced by FIFA in July 2016 and was reserved for residents of host country Russia.

"FIFA has also made an allocation of tickets available for disabled people and people with limited mobility in accordance with the number of special access seats available in the 12 stadiums," the statement from the FIFA said.

The world’s football organization also reminded that "at the request of the Russian authorities, all fans attending matches at the 2018 FIFA World Cup need to apply for a Fan-ID - the official identity document issued to fans."

Russia came up for this FIFA World Cup with an innovation, which is the so-called Fan-ID and it is required for all ticketholders. This innovation was successfully tested during the 2017 FIFA Confederations Cup in Russia and earned high marks from the world’s governing football body.

The Fan-ID plays an important security role during the major football tournament in Russia as it grants admittance to the stadiums and also serves as visa for foreign visitors to enter the country.

A Fan-ID holder is allowed to enter the country without having a Russian visa and stay for the duration of the global football tournament. Fan-IDs are obligatory, in addition to purchased tickets, in order to attend matches of the 2018 World Cup tournament in Russia.

The 2018 FIFA World Cup kicks off in 57 days with the opening match in the Russian capital of Moscow.

Russia selected 11 host cities to be the venues for the matches of the 2018 World Cup and they are Moscow, St. Petersburg, Sochi, Kazan, Saransk, Kaliningrad, Volgograd, Rostov-on-Don, Nizhny Novgorod, Yekaterinburg and Samara.

The matches of the 2018 World Cup will be held between June 14 and July 15 at 12 stadiums located in the 11 mentioned above cities across Russia. Two of the stadiums are located in the Russian capital.

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