2018 World Cup draw: Russia has problems to tackle ahead of event
By Yan Yangchen
Russia, the host of the 2018 World Cup, was drawn with Saudi Arabia, Egypt and Uruguay in Group A. It might sound like a relief for Russian football fans, but with the opening day drawing near, Moscow is still facing big challenges.
As CGTN correspondent in Russia Daria Bondarchuk puts it, what remains to be done is "not just polishing touches here and there".
While Moscow, Sochi and St. Petersburg are all geared up to host top-level matches, the main football arena in the city of Samara is still incomplete.
Russian authorities also need to address security concerns, and risks of possible terror attacks. Russia is planning to beef up its security measures, installing for instance, thousands of surveillance cameras, and pledging to deploy tens of thousands of police officers who will be safeguarding the matches and patrolling the streets of host cities.
Russia also has to take into consideration the notorious acts of racism and hooliganism its football fans are known of instigating in stadiums.
Referees have now been given unprecedented power to halt matches over discriminatory or racist incidents during the games. And the country is introducing diversity classes at fan clubs, and has initiated diversity projects for schools.
Russian sports authorities have assured they are ready to deal with all of these issues, and pledged to make all the necessary efforts to make the 2018 World Cup a true sports celebration uniting millions of football fans across all continents.
In related news, Germany, the winners of the 2014 event and FIFA's top-ranked team, will face Mexico before taking on Sweden and South Korea in Group F. Joachim Loew's men will be trying to become the first nation to retain the title since Brazil in 1962.
"I am certainly not scared," said Loew.
"Other countries have been watching us over the last few years and they have progressed and they have great players. This will be an exciting World Cup."
Having endured horror draws in the past, Australian fans will feel relatively comfortable with what is in store for their fourth consecutive World Cup. The greatest challenge will be first up for the Socceroos vs. France in Kazan, which is near the team's base for the tournament, where an unlikely point would be an excellent result.
Matches follow against Denmark and Peru, both of whom will be tricky opponents, but Australia will feel victories are achievable. Now that their opponents are known, however, the uncertainty exists within Australia's own camp, as they must appoint a new head coach after the exit of Ange Postecoglou.
In Africa, Egypt looks decent with bets to reach the knockout stages, having been pitched against Russia, Saudi Arabia and Uruguay. But Tunisia, arguably Africa's weakest side, has found itself in Group G against England, Belgium and Panama.