Wednesday 01 June 2016, 18:52

Smertin appointed as World Cup ambassador

Former Russia captain Alexei Smertin has been named as an ambassador for the upcoming 2018 FIFA World Cup Russia™.

The retired footballer was appointed to the role on 1 June after a charity match between a team of volunteers for the 2018 FIFA World Cup Russia and some distinguished names from politics and show business. The ambassador’s certificate was presented to Smertin by FIFA President Gianni Infantino. In his new capacity, Smertin will work alongside the first 2018 World Cup ambassador: Russia and CSKA Moscow goalkeeper Igor Akinfeev.

World Cup ambassadors are individuals who have served their chosen profession with distinction. They work with the team preparing to host the competition, introduce positive values, promote the sport, a healthy way of life and the country's image as hosts of the FIFA Confederations Cup 2017 and Russia 2018, and finally they take part in official events put on by the Local Organising Committee and FIFA.

“You feel proud that you're representing your country on an international level,” declared Smertin, who represented Russia at Korea/Japan 2002 and at UEFA EURO 2004. “It's an incomparable feeling and I will remember it for the rest of my life.

“I'm delighted to join the ambassadors' team so I can help organise the best World Cup in history that's going to take place in our wonderful country in two years.”

It was symbolic that Smertin, whose career included spells at Lokomotiv Moscow, Bordeaux, Chelsea and other clubs, received news of his appointment on the day when the volunteer campaign was launched ahead of the Confederations Cup and World Cup. Smertin is an outspoken supporter of the Russia 2018 Volunteer Programme. His charity organisation “Young Gifts”, in Smertin's native city of Barnaul, actively cooperates with the World Cup volunteer centre in Ekaterinburg, which will train volunteers for their involvement in the two upcoming tournaments in Russia.

New members will be added to the Russia 2018 ambassadors' team in the near future.