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Putin passes torch to Qatar for World Cup 2022

Moscow: Russian President Vladimir Putin has formally passed the torch to Qatar for the World Cup in 2022.

Ahead of the final in Moscow between France and Croatia, Putin has met at the Kremlin with Qatar's emir Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad Al Thani and FIFA president Gianni Infantino.

Putin says Russia's World Cup has been a success and "I am sure that our friend from Qatar will succeed at holding the FIFA 2022 World Cup at the same highest level."

Putin ceremonially handed a football to the emir to mark the transfer to Qatar, which will be the first Arab country to host the tournament. The emir says through a translator that the World Cup "will be a huge and great festival for all our country."

Croatian President Kolinda Grabar-Kitarovic has presented Russian President Vladimir Putin with a Croatian national team jersey in red and white with the number 9 and the name Putin written on it. Putin accepted the gift with a smile. "First of all, I want to congratulate your team on their successful participation in the World Cup," the Russian president said during the talks with Grabar-Kitarovic. "I am sure that tonight, we will witness an interesting and beautiful game."

Putin has welcomed his Croatian counterpart in Kremlin. FIFA President Gianni Infantino said on Sunday that he fell in love with Russia during the 2018 FIFA World Cup.

"Today I am a happy man… As far as I am concerned, we all fell in love with Russia. And I am sure in four years we will fall in love with Qatar," Infantino said at a ceremony here, reports Sputnik news agency.

He added that the World Cup had a profound effect on Russia and will influence Qatar as well. "It is football. It is a passion. It is emotions. It is love. It is family. It is unity. These sentiments that we have felt here in Russia, we (now) transfer to Qatar. And I am sure that this incredibly energetic and positive impact that football had in Russia, it will have in Qatar in four years," he said.

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