Moscow, July 7: It was already being projected that the ongoing Fifa World Cup in Russia has helped President Vladimir Putin in a number of ways - from political to diplomatic. It also has helped the country neutralise "stereotypes" about it and none but President Putin said that on Friday, July 6, reports said.
According to SNTV, Putin told Fifa president and others that the "stereotypes" about Russia have been broken down during the mega tournament as it was proved that Russia is a "hospitable" and "friendly" country to the outsiders and credited the football fans for bringing the country a good name.
'The world fell in love with Russia'
Gianni Infantino, president of world football's governing body, was also impressed by the world cup in Russia and told Putin the world fell in love with Russia. He said the take on breaking down of stereotypes was true and that Russia was discovered as a new country.
Lothar Matthaus, Germany's world cup-winning captain in 1990, also lauded the world cup in Russia saying it is one of the best tournaments he has seen in the last 40 years.
Both for Putin and Russia, the quadrennial tournament this year has been special. Owing to Russia's international confrontation with the West, a lot of western states had aired suspicion over the tournament with some even deciding to stay away from it even if their teams played. But they, like Sweden, later decided to lift the 'ban' as the tournament progressed.
The anti-Putin diatribes that the West generally carry out couldn't harm the positive image of Russia that the 21st edition of the tournament brought with it. The Russian football team's efforts in reaching the quarter-finals despite being the lowest ranked team in the tournament also helped the overall image-building.
There was no sign of hooliganism and racism as many had apprehended in the run-up to the tournament and also Putin made full use of the platform to make some eye-catching engagements with world leaders and one wouldn't be surprised if the West felt jealous about it.
He world cup may not resolve Russia's economic concerns but it has certainly gave it a positive image, something that the 'undemocratic' Putin administration will make full use of in its future international dealings.