World Cup host Russian Federation spent billions, but will its economy benefit?

North American trio beats Morocco to host 2026 World Cup

Argentina's Nestor Pitana will referee the opening World Cup match on Thursday when hosts Russian Federation play Saudi Arabia, FIFA has announced.

A spokeswoman for football's world governing body said: "We are extremely happy to have been able to gather such a high-level line-up of artists for the opening ceremony, which for the first time and for the benefit of the fans in the stadium and watching on TV will take place just half an hour before kick-off and will focus on musical performances".

Qualified for a fourth consecutive World Cup, but had to take the long route to Russian Federation after failing to secure direct entry in Asia because of a slightly inferior goal difference to Saudi Arabia.

Read on for a look at what to know ahead of the opening ceremony.

Smith will be performing the World Cup's anthem alongside Kosovan singer Era Istrefi and Nicky Jam.

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Another date to remember is June 28, when England take on Belgium in their final Group G encounter.

Sepp Blatter, the disgraced former president of Federation Internationale de Football Association whose dramatic fall from power corresponded with revelations of widespread corruption among the organisation's top officials, will attend the World Cup in Russia as a personal guest of President Vladimir Putin.

Over the past ten months, FIFA Legends, 2018 FIFA World Cup ambassadors and prominent figures around the world have provided valuable support with the organisation of the tour.

Double Champions League victor Mourinho earlier predicted that England would emerge from their World Cup group as winners - setting up a predicted match with Poland in the last 16. As they have never made it past the round of 16 at the FIFA World Cup, they will be desperate to change their fortunes and give their fans something to cheer about.

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