Russian officials and former and current football players start the 1,000-day countdown to the 2018 FIFA World Cup at Manezhnaya square in Moscow. AFP PHOTO / KIRILL KUDRYAVTSEV
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Moscow's Red Square was transformed Friday into a football pitch as Russia launched its 1,000-day countdown to the 2018 World Cup it will host in 11 cities. Attended by high-ranking officials and football stars, the celebrations come as world football's governing body is embroiled in a corruption scandal, partly over the awarding of the 2018 tournament to Russia.Friendly matches among the under-16 national squads of Russia, Italy, Germany and Spain were played on the pitch set up on Red Square near the walls of the Kremlin.Grassroots football coach Alexander Ossipov, who runs a sports academy in the city of Dmitrov, north of Moscow, said he and his players had come to support Russia's under-16 national team. Similar events are taking place in more than 30 cities, including the host cities of St. Petersburg and Kazan.
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