Arsenal midfielder Andrei Arshavin insists that he loves to play football in England, but that a World Cup held in Russia would leave a “human legacy” that would last for generations.
Arshavin, who is the captain of the Russian national team, claims ‘it is my duty to support the development of football throughout my country’ and as an ambassador for the Russian 2018 bid, maintains that his country would benefit more from the hosting the event than any of their rivals, including England.
‘We have never had a World Cup,’ Arshavin wrote on Goal.com. ‘Hosting it here would open up new minds and new hearts for the game. It would be a completely new chapter for the FIFA World Cup itself.
‘Secondly, it would galvanise our game at every level. For me as a footballer, the grassroots game, coaching and education, training opportunities and of course stadiums, play a pivotal role in the sport.
‘Russia is a huge country, the biggest on earth. Everything is extra-large, including the organisation of the game, which, by the way is the No.1 sport in our country. With the support of the government, $1 billion (£638,000) will be invested into grassroots and football development by 2015, as well as into football for women, beach soccer and programmes for handicapped players.
‘We are building pitches, football centres, schools and training sites in the most remote areas of our country, growing the game and providing opportunities for the next generations. We are training coaches and other specialists, and working hard to modernise the infrastructure of our top leagues.
‘Last but not least we are building stadiums fit for the biggest competition on earth. It has been said that a huge effort is being needed. It is already underway, as can be seen in my native Saint Petersburg with the new stadium that will be finished by late 2012, or in Kazan, Sochi and elsewhere.’