Vladimir Putin
By  Vanessa Obioha
The Russian President Vladimir Putin just made his welcoming speech to the thousands of fans gathered at the Luzhniki Stadium.
He stressed that football is not the most popular sport in Russia but it is however loved.
He encouraged fans to enjoy the sounds and sights of Russia while celebrating the power of football which embraces all irrespective of their race or language.
He said he wished each team victory in their various matches.
“I celebrate you all from different parts of the world,” he said in Russian to a loud cheer.
The opening ceremony kicked off with Rostov-on-Don Ambassador and former Miss Russia, Victoria Lopyreva, bringing the ball to the pitch.
They were followed by a former member of music group Take That and English pop-star Robbie Williams who performed a medley of songs including his popular hit Angel which he performed with Russian soprano soloist Aida Garifullina.