7/11/2018 11:52:30 AM (GMT+3)

Volunteer Centre welcomes FIFA secretary Samoura and others

Volunteer Centre welcomes FIFA secretary Samoura and others

MOSCOW: The official World Cup song is ringing out of the speakers, the ceiling is bedecked with the flags of 32 nations and alongside there is a poster with information on score-line predictions for the first of the two semifinals.

The Volunteer Centre here at the Luzhniki Stadium here is a happy, welcoming place full of laughter, impromptu dancing and table tennis matches – and on Media Day FIFA Secretary General Fatma Samoura was present along with FIFA legends Michel Salgado and Julio Baptista.

“You are the heart and soul of this World Cup. You are the ones who have enabled this tournament to become a reality,” Samoura told fifa.com.

17,040 volunteers are working across Russia in 20 different capacities.

They were selected from a record number of candidates – no fewer than 176,870 in total.

The volunteers come from a variety of different backgrounds and include the captain of an oil tanker, a former footballer and even a world champion dragon boat racer. What unites them is a love of football and the willingness to show a real sense of commitment over a number of weeks.

Thirty-six per cent of volunteers are men, 64 per cent women. They include a grandmother and her grandson, couples and indeed entire families. 93 per cent of them come from Russia while seven per cent came from 112 different countries.

“It’s an incredible experience to be part of this tournament and to come into contact with people from all around the world,” said Hiba, a Moroccan.

Samoura, Salgado and Baptista were delighted to spend time with the volunteers. They played table football, listened to excited stories of the tournament to date and even showcasing their dancing skills during a flash mob.

“The assistance of the volunteers is amazing, the energy they have,” said Baptista. “The World Cup is not the same without them. This is the best I have ever seen and that’s thanks to them as well.”