Picture Credit- FIFA.com

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. People gathered in Nizhny Novgorod, Sochi, St. Petersburg and Moscow, to celebrate the landmark.

The 2018 FIFA World Cup will be the first to be held in Russia and will play out across eleven cities in 12 stadiums, all of the which are either under construction or have been built from scratch. Kaliningrad and Ekaterinburg unveiled their respective special clocks counting down every second of the 500 days until the start of the tournament.

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. Russian President Vladimir Putin after his meeting with FIFA president Gianni Infantino at the Moscow Kremlin, November 25, 2016 © Alexey DruzhininKremlin to host World Cup Russia 2018 finals draw in December.

In Moscow, 2,000 workers are working around the clock to complete modifications to the city’s famous Luzhniki Stadium, which will host the opening ceremony and match; as well as group games, a semi-final and the eventual final of football’s showpiece competition.

Currently, the area of the ground has been expanded to 221,000 sq m and 3,000 new seats are being added to the Luzhniki, which was also the arena which staged the 1980 Moscow Summer Olympic Games. Those new spaces – which include VIP areas and disabled access – bring the total capacity to 81,000, making it one of the biggest sporting venues in Europe.

This exceeds the previous record by almost 25,000 applications, set four years ago when 152,101 applications were received for the 2014 FIFA World Cup Brazil, FIFA said on its website. The 2018 FIFA World Cup in Russia will take place from June 14 to July 15.