There is not long to go now. In 500 days’ time, football fans from all over the world can put an end to the anticipation and once again enjoy an entire month of the best national teams on the planet going head to head.

The Host Cities of the 2018 FIFA World Cup Russia™ are particularly looking forward to the start of the tournament and organised a series of eye-catching celebrations for the milestone date, involving fans, Russia 2018 Ambassadors, volunteers and regional and urban administrations.

The winter weather did not hamper the footballing festivities and even gave the events a certain charm. In Sochi, for example, supporters were treated to a fire-and-ice show, during which the performers created a structure depicting the number “500” using pyrotechnic effects. Guests at the event, such as former USSR defender Evgeny Lovchev, could also take part in a football quiz, receive souvenir gifts and watch football freestylers in action. The celebrations were held on the bridge facing the main square in the Rosa Khutor ski resort, where the BUD Alcohol Free countdown clock was launched in a special ceremony – the second countdown clock in the city (the first was launched last year in the Port of Sochi).

“It’s great that such a huge footballing festival like the World Cup is taking place in Russia,” said Evgeny Lovchev. “I’m sure we’ll organise and host everything excellently, and the best players on the planet will be on show. Football unites people from all over the world and this will be reaffirmed at Russia 2018.”