World Cup Daily by Jason Pine

A Saudi Arabia fan holds a replica world cup outside the stadium before the match

The tournament which is a month-long is expected to attract one and a half million fans to Russian Federation and an estimated global television audience of over three billion viewers.

Russian Federation has spent more than $13 billion on preparations for the big event, and President Vladimir Putin called on the team to pull themselves together as they look to progress from a section also featuring Uruguay and Egypt.

The first World Cup on Russian soil will be played in 12 stadiums located across 11 cities.

The 27-year-old is among Russia's top players with nine goals in 58 appearances, but fans will be encouraged by the performance of his replacement, Denis Cheryshev, who scored twice against Saudi Arabia.

Stat chat Cheryshev became the first substitute to score in an opening World Cup game, while team-mate Artem Dzyuba did the same, heading home Russia's third just 90 seconds after coming on in the second half.

"Little action has been taken by the Russian government and police to crack down on far right extremists who target LGBT+ people for violent and humiliating assaults - including the instigators of the current threats to bash and stab LGBT+ football fans at the World Cup". He chipped the ball over two Saudi defenders in the 43rd minute and shot over goalkeeper Abdullah Al Muaiouf's right side to make it 2-0.

More news: Whittaker Makes the Mark; Romero Does Not

This despite Russia's warning of fines for sellers of up to 25 times each ticket's value.

"Raising Russia's brand value with a welcoming, peaceful, and fun sporting event" may help provide a longer lasting effect from hosting the World Cup, analysts at UBS Group AG said in a report in May.

The preparations of 2010 winners Spain are in tatters after coach Julen Lopetegui was sacked just two days before their opening game on Friday against Portugal.

Dzagoev was then replaced by Cheryshev as one of Russia's key players went down with what looked like a pretty serious hamstring injury. "Good for them!" said Anton Irofeyev, 29, a shop manager.

With their squad all based in the Middle East, Saudi Arabia's lack of exposure to games against the elite is another problem they have to overcome to have any hope of competing at this level in the future. Some football gang members say they will be leaving town once the games begin to avoid getting rounded up and Russian Federation refused to issue tickets to almost 500 of supporters with hooligan links.

Veteran British LGBT rights campaigner Peter Tatchell is detained by police officers during a one-man protest to draw attention to what he said were appalling human rights abuses committed against gay men in Chechnya, in central Moscow, Russia June 14, 2018.

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