In this Saturday, Sept. 9, 2017 file photo, Russian President Vladimir Putin and FIFA President Gianni Infantino present the FIFA World Cup trophy at Moscow's Luzhniki Stadium, Russia.(AP Photo/Ivan Sekretarev, File)
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Russia is gearing up to host the World Cup for the first time while facing the herculean task of eradicating racism and hooliganism and warding off the threat of a terror attack.It is an $11.5-billion (9.6-billion-euro) gamble with the potential to backfire if it leaves behind "white elephant" stadiums and hotels that fall into disuse and fail to turn Russia into the tourism mecca it has always dreamed of being.Friction between Russia and the West over Syria and Ukraine make this year's addition of what is arguably the world's biggest sports event one of the most diplomatically-charged World Cups in decades.Hooliganism experts say Russia's powerful FSB security service has cracked down hard on football gangs and blacklisted many of its leaders as the World Cup nears.The threat of terror is ever-present and potentially growing because of Russia's military support of Syrian President Bashar Assad.Something close to that happened at Euro 2008 when Russia stunned the Dutch and made the semi-finals.
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