The Christian Science Monitor

As World Cup kicks off, Russia aims to prove a world-class host again

The latest of the Vladimir Putin-era mammoth global events – and possibly the last such to be hosted by Russia in the foreseeable future – is about to kick off in Moscow.

On Thursday, the FIFA 2018 soccer World Cup gets underway with a long-awaited match between Russia and Saudi Arabia in Moscow's newly renovated Luzhniki Stadium. At least half a million visitors from all over the world will visit Russia to attend the quadrennial event, the globe's foremost professional sporting competition.

But it's an international showcase that's under shadow, primarily due to accusations levied at the host country.

The current edition of the cup is still dogged by accusations that Russia obtained its hosting rights through corruption. It has survived persistent calls for a political boycott due to Russia's alleged malign global behavior. And it has weathered a storm

‘No bears wandering around our streets’A Russian traditionMore big state-led projects

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