CEL­E­BRAT­ING O JOGO BONITO

This diplo­matic football tour­na­ment be­tween play­ers from sev­eral em­bassies amped up the ex­cite­ment for the FIFA World Cup 2018

Hindustan Times (Lucknow) - Live - - HTCITY TIME OUT - Aditya Do­gra (With in­puts by Ab­hi­nav Verma)

With the 2018 FIFA World Cup just a cou­ple of days away, football fever is at an all-time high. And, a re­cently or­gan­ised football tour­na­ment in the Cap­i­tal kick-started the cel­e­bra­tions for the ‘beau­ti­ful game’ in ad­vance.

Hosted by the Em­bassy of Rus­sia, the Diplo­matic Football Tour­na­ment saw play­ers from various em­bassies, such as China, Den­mark, France, Ger­many, Kaza­khstan, Rus­sia, and the UN come to­gether to slip, slide, tackle, and bond over football.

“If there is one lan­guage that peo­ple un­der­stand, that brings peo­ple to­gether, it is the lan­guage of football. We chose to or­gan­ise this tour­na­ment be­cause it is events like these that strengthen cultural ties and bring com­mu­ni­ties to­gether,” said Niko­lay Ku­da­shev, Am­bas­sador of Rus­sia to In­dia.

The group games be­gan at 7.30am and con­tin­ued till noon, lead­ing the Rus­sian and French teams to face off in the fi­nals. While France took the lead with a per­fectly ex­e­cuted goal, Rus­sia bounced back with an equaliser fol­lowed with an­other goal, one that won them the match and tour­na­ment. Also at­tend­ing the event was Min­is­ter of State for Sports and I&B, Rajyavardhan Rathore. “Of late, the in­ter­est in sports has surged tremen­dously around the coun­try. The craze for football, too, is in­creas­ing in

In­dia, and the un­der-17

World Cup we hosted was proof since it hada big­ger au­di­ence than that of the In­dian Premier League. Sure, the In­dian football team might have never qual­i­fied for the FIFA world cup, but they have great po­ten­tial. And if we bridge their po­ten­tial with op­por­tu­nity, we might soon see our team com­pet­ing in fu­ture world cups. We plan to or­gan­ise un­der-17 and un­der-21 games, and will also be start­ing a tal­ent hunt which, via a mo­bile app, will con­nect schools, state gov­ern­ments, and NGOS ded­i­cated to sports, so that we can pick kids in the 8-12 age bracket and help de­velop their tal­ents,” he said.

France has the best play­ers. So, if An­toine Griez­mann plays well, I think we can win. Apart from France, Brazil, who have Ney­mar will also be one of the top con­tenders to win. SYL­VAIN BURON FRANCE

It’s un­for­tu­nate that our na­tional team didn’t qual­ify for the World Cup. I have not de­cided whom to sup­port yet. I will de­cide af­ter the quar­ter fi­nals; so, let’s see. ULYDEK TULEKIN

KAZA­KHSTAN

France and Rus­sia faced off in the fi­nal game of the tour­na­ment

(Above and right) Rus­sian play­ers cel­e­brate win­ning the football tour­na­ment

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