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FIFA Head Jokes She's 'Waiting for Russian Citizenship' After Regular Visits

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MOSCOW (Sputnik) - FIFA Secretary General Fatma Samoura joked on Wednesday that she might just as well become a Russian citizen given her regular visits to Russia over the past two years.

"I am still waiting for my Russian citizenship because in the past two years I have visited your beautiful country 23 times," Samoura said at a meeting with Russian upper house speaker Valentina Matviyenko.

She added that while many had doubted that Russia would be able to organize the tournament in time, the host country had met all the challenges.

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"By the time of the biggest sporting event on earth, the whole country was totally ready for the FIFA World Cup. I can tell you, Madam speaker, that not many people thought that Russia would be ready… My response was always that Russia would be ready," Samoura said.

She also joked that she almost felt sorry for Qatar, who will host the 2022 FIFA World Cup, because they will have to somehow provide a level of organization that would be comparable to this year's event in Russia.

The FIFA World Cup 2018 in Russia sets very high expectations for the next tournament, scheduled for 2022 in Qatar, Samoura said.

"I think that whoever has visited this country over the past four weeks, will come back home with a memory that Russia is one of the best hosts of the FIFA World Cup. I feel for Qatar because you have set the bar very, very high," Samoura said at a meeting with Valentina Matviyenko.

Samoura added that Russia had exceeded all expectations during the World Cup.

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"You have exceeded all our expectations, in hosting, in organizing, in security, in friendly smiles, in accepting diversity," the secretary general said.

Samoura added that she wished to express her profound gratitude to Russian President Vladimir Putin for making the event possible.

The 2018 FIFA World Cup kicked off on June 14 and will continue until Sunday, with the final match to be held at Moscow's Luzhniki Stadium. Later on Wednesday, Croatia will face England in the semifinals.

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citizenship, 2018 FIFA World Cup, Fatma Samoura, Russia
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