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Fan Excitement Building Up Ahead Of Kick-Off; Host Russia Kick Off Against Saudi Arabia; Pompeo Briefs South Korea And China On Trump-Kim Summit; U.K. Remembers The Victims Of Grenfell Tower Fire; Aired 10-11a ET

Aired June 14, 2018 - 10:00   ET


[10:00:02] BECKY ANDERSON, CNN ANCHOR: Well, after all that excitement and anticipation the long wait is over for this World Cup a billions of fans

watch from every corner of the planet, 32 teams will compete in 64 games battling to get their hands on the 2018 version of that trophy.

We are here in Moscow's Red Square to bring you a very special edition of CONNECT THE WORLD as Russia host the greatest show on Earth.

The action kicks off in just one hour with host country Russia taking on Saudi Arabia. But we have plenty to bring you before than the opening

ceremony just getting underway now. We're bring some of the highlights as we moved through this show.

And we'll also be checking in with you, the fans throughout this two-hour special. While in prime company CNN World's Sports Alex Tomas and the

former Nigeria striker Peter Odemwingie are with me.

Also joined today by Amanda Davis who is not far from here at the fan zone overlooking Russia's biggest and best football ground, some set for you

folks. That seats 80,000 diehard fans with an hour until kickoff them, what is the atmosphere Amanda?

AMANDA DAVIS, CNN WORLD SPORTS: Hi Becky, there is no doubt here on Sparrow Hills. As you said just above Luzhniki Stadium, that's the biggest

sporting event in the world is nearly upon us. There is an absolute cacophony of noise.

Just behind the camera we have the 25,000 people Fanfest with its music blaring out the stadium PA system is absolutely ramping up the atmosphere

which we can hear as well.

We're on the platform here surrounded by the world international media. We've had the Japanese media next to us compete with their personalized

Russian dolls. We've had Saudi media, the German media here as well.

And that is not to mention the fans who are flooding in from around the world. It's fantastic to see we've been talking about it really since

Saturday since we landed here in Moscow, fans literally from across the globe descending here on the Russian capital.

Peruvian band are here, complete with stilt walkers, jugglers as ice cream sellers. Everybody having their photos taken, exchanging selfies with

different hats and suits (ph). The people were worried that this opening game maybe wasn't the kind of game to get to it, applied about the Russia.

Again, Saudi Arabia, the message certainly hasn't made it here on Sparrow Hills.

You do have to say the one theme this week speaking to Russian is that they're not that excited about their chances of their football team.

They're not expected to that well. But Fred Pleitgen has been out in about just trying to get into the mood of a few of them whether or not they're

changing their mind in these final minutes as we approach kick-off.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Well, I'm supporting Russia because I'm here. I've been studying for almost three years. So probably yes, I have to be for

them, yes. That's I'm supporting Russia here.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Yes, happier together, all of them today is just -- I don't know like a day of the world really. Not important where from maybe

you're from Africa, from Russia, from Brazil or other country. Now we are here in Moscow. Now we are happy. It's a really good. Very, very, very

good day.


DAVIS: Yes. And really good message I've been getting from the Russian I've been speaking to Becky is that, they want to use those tournaments.

Support the best phase of Russia forward, maybe change a few perceptions.

All the question, I know a lot of people have been asking is about the security. You have to say there's the normal cordon. So it's now the new

norm really around his major sporting events with the road closures. There are security personnel, probably every 20 meters or so on the run up to the

fan zone here, also down to the stadium.

And then there that extra level for today, you don't need, only need one of these which is the match ticket. Everybody also needs their fan ID, which

is a kind of extra backup, background check which also linked to their passport. But the good news is because I have both of these. I'm lucky

enough to be heading in there.

ANDERSON: Well, go up and watch the game. Keep us up to speed, keep us up to speed. Keep us posted. Amanda, thank you for that.

Well, Alex Thomas with me along side our guest Peter Odemwingie today who played as a striker for Nigeria, scored 10 goals all together including one

at the World Cup. He took part of course in two.

[10:05:03] And Peter, before we talk about tonight's game. I know you've got some thoughts on that. Your mom is Russia, your dad is Nigerian. You

grew up here and played as a kid in Moscow during Soviet time. How are things change and just how important is it that this country is hosting

this World Cup?

PETER ODEMWINGIE, PROFESSIONAL FOOTBALL PLAYER: Yes, it's very import in many ways because when I was a kid, their images the World Cups outside of

Russia like of Brooke Goulet (ph), where he was score in most important goals.

People use to talk about, "Well, are you from Holland? Are you also related to him?' So those things help me, grew up as a kid. Every time

people ask me. They compare me to George Weah. All the African players, so that help me a lot but the difference now if probably in the number in

of black players playing in the country.

Then there was probably none during the Soviet time, but now you have lots of them playing over here.

ANDERSON: Peter, before we talk about the game, experience more tracers (ph) as the kid.

ODEMWINGIE: No, never as a kid. Never, but when I was obviously playing in the league here, there were few incident, so always had for me to defend

them on that side but there's not smoke without fire obviously. There were incidents, but it still minority of people that have attitude.

ANDERSON: Right, listen the Russian team has a huge challenge ahead. They're ranked the lowest in this tournament at 17th in the FIFA rankings.

We caught with the man you know well in fact. You played against him. To find out what he thought of his teams changes. Have a listen.


DAVIS: There are people talking about the fact that Russian National team needs a miracle to do anything in this tournament, the worst run ever for

the Russian National team. Is it as bad as people are making it sound?

ANDREY ARSHAVIN, FORMER ARSENAL MIDFIELDER: Well, of course it does not give good emotion for our players because anyway we're reading everything

in the internet. But I hope miracle can happen and it will happen.

DAVIS: Do see that what it will take? Does it need to be a miracle?

ARSHAVIN: Also difficult to say but I hope to qualify for a group stage. We still enough -- we have enough level to go qualify.

DAVIS: Why is it so bad? Where has it gone wrong?

ARSHAVIN: I don't say it's so bad. But I don't know, maybe generation has not as it was before or something happen in the structure of our football.

I don't know, difficult to say ways. But I'm still believed. We will have result and in one week suddenly everyone will say, "Hey, everything is

good. We qualified. We have full blast (ph). Now in football everything happens for one second.


ANDERSON: Andrey Arshavin has been speaking to Amanda a little earlier on. Alex so good news that Russia -- for Russia at least is that no host has

ever lost the opening match of the World Cup.

But news they are the lowest ranked team as I said in this tournament. Do they still have a chance?

ALEX THOMAS, CNN WORLD SPORT ANCHOR: They don't really have a chance of winning it. They never had done. Their memories almost have to be as long

as any English football fans because their best performance was 1966, when England won the World Cup and Russia cam third.

Nonetheless, they do want to avoid welcome record have the first host country to lose the opening game. And already someone's speaking to them

to not getting out their group. That was South Africa in 2010.

So, I think Russians hope to get out to that group, at least get to the knockout stages. But the success for them is putting on a good tournament.

The first I'm never hosted the World Cup.

ANDERSON: The Russian coach has said the good thing is we just peaking so far as our form is concept. He said they're on their way out of the

moment, are they?

ODEMWINGIE: The result of the friendly game zone indicates that but --

THOMAS: But they have tough games.

ODEMWINGIE: Yes, of course, of course. They were tough games. Argentina, Brazil, they expect them to win it. They're lowest rank, they know that.

So that takes a bit of pressure of them. They have to give account of themselves like I played sometimes in the smaller, in big leagues.

And you just have to give your best to fans, that's what they ask for and they will feel it. If they don't feel that, you gave your best. It would

be criticize, but one they see that, you did all. You couldn't do anymore. They will be OK with that.

ANDERSON: Well, they play to Saudi tonight. They go Egypt and Uruguay in their group. If they get through the group stage, they would be good for

the tournament of course because the Russian will absolutely get behind them because many of the papers yesterday suggested that Russian really of

that into this World Cup because the team is on peak form at the moment.

They play Saudi of course tonight. They're really putting a lot into football at the moment. But their ambition still pretty much out stripping

their ability, like their opposition. This is only their fifth appearance in a World Cup.

They made a quarterfinals of course back in 1994. Alex, are their chances?

THOMAS: They're definitely their chance no better than Russian's. It's interest enough, the coach Juan Antonio Pizzi, who's Argentinian born but a

Spanish coach, who had some success with Chili he meant to, it's a victory last year in the Confederation Cup final beating Messi's Argentina.

[10:10:09] But then when he couldn't get Chili to qualify for this World Cup. He quits or, he lightly resigned. And then Saudi Arabia's snap him

up for this. So he certainly got some pedigree and needs to organize them.

They certainly had a better generation of players during the 1990s as you say the best finish USA '94 that was run of four success appearances.

ANDERSON: Right, OK. But that Saudi's and Russia's and we're king of done with that, I think the game kick-off in an hour and it is the beginning of

the World Cup 2018.

Let's talk about who we think could win this World Cup. You're prediction, sir.

ODEMWINGIE: Will start with England. Everybody is talking about Brazil and Germany and France and Belgium. But I think England will bring

surprise to us, how far will they go, I don't know because so far they've tried to play with the different formation which is three defenders on the

back --

THOMAS: This graphic we're seeing by the way from the data company Gracenote. Look at the statistical analysis, which I guess most of your

would agree with that top five wouldn't they Peter.

ODEMWINGIE: Yes, it's common sense somehow. Its common sense but --

ANDERSON: Same thought given that they're lost their coach Alex, just two days ago?

THOMAS: Yes. I mean, they suppose they know maybe crazy to have your coach act because the analysis going to run with it after the World Cup and

didn't let his bosses at the Spanish if they know. They're furious, hearing more reports today that there's often Real Madrid Barcelona split

in the Spanish camp.

Gerald Pique, the kind of sock toward the Barcelona if you like pulling Sergio Ramos his counterpart of Real Madrid of the head of the Spanish F.A.

Having another argument about it, not ideal, Fernando Hierro stood. Ironically a Real Madrid legend is player How they're going to bring it

all together head a crucial opening game against Portugal as anyone's guess.

ANDERSON: Let's just bring that graphic up again because in the bottom five so far as the statisticians are concern. Is Peter, Nigeria you will

hope that they do better than that, right? That a share (ph).

ODEMWINGIE: But where I think unpredictable sometimes. We can just feel like it sometimes. And just turn in on.

THOMAS: I always think Becky that African (ph) country is really going to nail it at this World Cup. They've never been to the semifinal, at least

two quarter final appearances, if not three by my memory.

And I was at the one from Garner in 2010 in South Africa when they lost the Uruguay. I think it was extra time at Luis Suarez essentially fouling on

the line to spot an obvious goal and they've missed the penalty, so close to getting into the last sport.

I think of all the African nations that could do it this Senegal are more likely.

ANDERSON: Interesting. All right, that's a very quick look at the what the bookmarker (ph) think about who'll top score. Brazil Forward Neymar,

top at eight to one Argentina Lionel Messi just behind, you can see the see the rest on the screen.

Let's bring those up for our viewers. Peter, who would you put your money on this point.

ODEMWINGIE: I already done on Messi, because at the back of his mind it could be the last World Cup for him. He had great season with Barcelona

but not winning the champions league by just giving that extra --

ANDERSON: (INAUDIBLE) has never surprise (ph) though, right?

ODEMWINGIE: Yes. With style of this talent, in only need extra motivation to do great things.

THOMAS: So need to win a World Cup. We consider the great alongside to Maradona or Pele.

ODEMWINGIE: Yes, absolutely. That's a goal that's -- I already said I played with against him in the Olympic final in China and he put the gold

medal on the chest and I'm sure one goal in his mind is this particular one. So, to be the call the great you have to touch that goal (ph).

ANDERSON: I think the World Cup in Russia. We are less than an hour away with the first match, 45 minutes or so away. In fact let's get you a

prediction from CTW, CONNECT THE WORLD set (ph) of friend.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Meet Faro, a two-year-old female Saker Falcon. Who think she's Nostradamus at least when it comes to World Cup football.

And she's off. Well, it's nyet for Saudi Arabia and Russia with love for this falcon. Russia then to win the opening game.


ANDERSON: That's the Faro the falcon. There still to come tonight. The World Cup is about a lot more than the action on the pitch of course.

[10:14:14] And look how politics and even war often gets in the way. That's after this.

Stay with us.


ANDERSON: Right. You were back with us. We are some 40 minutes away from kick-off in the opening game of the World Cup 2018.

And though everyone says the World Cup is a celebration to sport. It is a not unusual for the action on the field to spillover into the political

arena. Human rights activist, some advocates are in Russia right now protesting that this issue anti-gay laws.

Back in 1982 France and West Germany played a semifinal contest that was so violent the French President of the West German chancellor has do issue

joint statement to calm their nation. There was almost a boycott have been 1978 World Cup in Argentina to protest the Argentina government campaign of

torturing, kidnaping.

But nothing tops what happened in 1969 just after El Salvador and Honduras battled in a tense World Cup qualifying match. The two nations actually

went to war with each other. So, the so-called football war lasted four days and more than 3,000 people were killed.

Well, this year Russia hosting the game and it can you a multiple France. CNN's Matthew Chance takes a look at that.


MATTHEW CHANCE, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORREPONDENT: Less than four years after Russia won the right to host this World Cup. Violence uprising

in neighboring Ukraine mark the turning point in Russia's international standing.

As the Pro Moscow government in Kief (ph) toppled, Russia deployed Special Forces to seizes Crimea later annexing the strategic peninsula from Ukraine

plumping a raft of international sanctions in protest.

Russian back rebels in Eastern Ukraine then stage an armed rebellion, an ongoing conflict, which is cost thousands of lives. Including 298 people

on board Malaysian airlines flight MH17 shutdown near the Russian boarder.

And international investigation concluded a Russian army Buk missile brought the plane down, but Moscow denies any involvement.

In 2015 Russia began military operations in Syria. Intervening to support it's allied Bashar Al-Assad. Heavy Russian airstrikes often in heavily

populated areas allowed Assad forces to retake key cities. Russia denies targeting civilians, the human rights groups say thousands have been


But it's not just Russia's foreign policy that drawn criticism. And a prominent opposition figure Boris Nemtsov was gunned down as he walks home

near the Kremlin in 2015. It was international outcry but the Russian authorities denied being implicated.

Measures limiting gay rights in Russian punishing supposed promotion of homosexuality to minors is also fueled criticism. Then on the eve of the

World Cup another scandal rock Russia's international image.

[10:20:05] British authorities accusing Moscow of a chemical weapons attack in Salisbury, England. A former Russian agent and his daughter

hospitalized after being poisoned with the substance named as Novichok.

Russia again denies any involvement of more than 20 countries expelled Russian diplomats in protest.


ANDERSON: Well, the Russian opposition leader Alexei Navalny just been release from jail. Matther joining me now, that on the same day the World

Cup of course opens here in Moscow. He served a 30 day sentence for organizing nationwide protest against Vladimir Putin.

Timing on this, interesting?

CHANCE: Obviously it is. I mean, that he was release on this day for a purpose because all eyes our focus elsewhere. Alexie Navalny the most

proponent opposition leader in this country right since his 30 days in prison for staging this illegal protest.

And when he came out, he said look, they've even renovated the prisons that he spend last 30 days in preparation for the World Cup. And so he taken

sort of philosophical (INAUDIBLE). But I think we shouldn't be -- we should be careful to remember that behind all this glitz and all the

ceremony we're witnessing here in Moscow.

It's still a country with massive political and social problems, and it still quite ugly in many ways to talk in that piece (ph).

ANDERSON: And that one of the reasons that many officials from other countries and world leaders in fact won't be coming to this World Cup.

There will be some iconic moments such as this one for example the Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman seen here.

And let's bring them for our viewers. Just a little bit earlier he arrive here in Moscow for this the opening game, Russia against Saudi Arabia. And

President Putin will be pleased that he joined him for this game.

CHANCE: I think he will, yes. And I think President Peter also be pleased that Saudi Arabia that they're up against not a good football nation.

But you're right, I mean the world leaders have started coming here but look at the caliber of those world leaders. We're seeing the delegates

(ph) of Rwanda, delegation from North Korea. The Lebanese are here. The asset by Janice (ph) is a delegation from South Ossetia which only Russia

and one other country recognize is.

And because so of everything that's happened over the past couple of years because of the situation in Syria, in Ukraine, the annexation of Crimea,

the poisoning of the Skripals in Wiltshire, in Salisbury a couple months back.

Much of the international community has shunned this World Cup. And their officials are certainly staying away from the opening ceremonies.

ANDERSON: Matthew Chance with me in the house. Matthew, thank you for that, politics, football and Russia's image on the world stage, those all

coming together here then in Moscow as we get ready for the 2018 World Cup to off.

I caught up with one woman who hope this tournament will change who the country is perceived. Perhaps especially in the West, have a look.


ANDERSON: World football showpiece is set to begin. And as the fans warm up for what will be a feast of talent and technique over the next month. I

want you to meet the face of Russia 2018 Victoria is FIFA's ambassador here.

And what is about Russia that you want us to know?


ANDERSON: Thank you.

LOPYREVA: We are very happy to have you here finally now were country and this great football celebration happened in the first time in the history

of country. And we all looking forward to have as many foreigners as we can we have.

And we would like to show you. The way we are, we would like to show the way we can treat people --

ANDERSON: Which is what, tell me?

LOPYREVA: We are friendly. We know how to have fun and we have something in common, all of us we like football and this is great. But it is for you

as the foreigner to explore Russia not only Moscow but 11 cities.

And as a UNAIDS ambassador I would like to say that for this World Cup the main message from FIFA is every one is welcome.

ANDERSON: People will be save, correct.

LOPYREVA: This is one of the safest event ever because we were preparing. We realize how big responsibility it is because we are hosting so many

people from around the world. And we are completely ready to host such a event.

ANDERSON: Right, you are a football fan.

LOPYREVA: I'm a big football fan.

ANDERSON: The country is rated 70th, ranked at the bottom of global football league. How will they do in this tournament because they going to

need more than a miracle?

LOPYREVA: You know what, we have very good time to defend Russia that when you are playing at home, even balls are supporting you. And I believe that

our passion, our love and our support will help our player, because they're not the best but for us it's our guys and we're going to support them until


[10:25:02] ANDERSON: Right. I'm taking this because you will be the only second woman to kick start in international mens soccer match after let me

tell you Marilyn Monroe. So you are in good shoes as if were.

LOPYREVA: Hope so.

ANDERSON: So, let see how good you are. Three, two, one. Not bad. Not bad.



ANDERSON: And that (INAUDIBLE) fans never taken such a decent, receive a ball. Anyway, you can all follow up the World Cup action on our live blog. be sure to check that out. Much more here in Red Square just ahead.

But up next we will be giving over you to New York for a round up for the other big stories of the day with my colleague Zain Asher (INAUDIBLE).


ANDERSON: Welcome back, I'm Becky Anderson live in Red Square as we await kick-off in the opening game of the World Cup here in Russia.

For the time being I want to hand over to Zain Asher in New York, who has some headlines for your from around the world, Zain.

ZAIN ASHER, CNN ANCHOR: Thank you so much Becky. We're going to get back to the beautiful game in just a moment. Becky Anderson, who's there in Red

Square for your giving you all the last update on the World Cup.

But first though some international stories to bring you at this hour. U.S. Secretary State Mike Pompeo has just wrapped up a quick trip to South

Korea and China to brief those countries on the Trump-Kim summit.

So Pompeo met China's President in Beijing. You can see shaking hands there. Xi Jinping and voice optimism for piece on the Korean Peninsula,

earlier in Seoul (ph) he brush on criticism that U.S. President Donald Trump did not get enough confessions from Kim Jong-un.

Pompeo says North Korean leader understand what must happen next.


MIKE POMPEO, U.S. SECRETARY OF STATE: The agreement that was signed made very clear that this would be the complete denuclearization.

We believe that Chairman Kim Jong-un understands the urgency of the timing of completing this denuclearization that he understands that we must do

this quickly. And the sanctions relief, we should recall this, our U.N. sanctions.

The sanctions relief cannot take place until such time as we have demonstrated that North Korea has been completely denuclearized.

Verification is a central to that, complete denuclearization and certainly encompasses that idea very clearly.


[10:30:08] ASHER: Mike Pampeo there is talking about the importance of denuclearization. Matt Rivers is in Beijing with more on the Secretary of

State's diplomatic mission.

MATT RIVERS, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well Zain, this was Secretary of State Mike Pompeo his first trip to China since taken office. And it comes at

crucial time for the United States in the region start of course with North Korea.

The purpose of this visit was for Pompeo to come here to China and brief his Chinese counterparts just after doing the same with Japan and South

Korea. And that shows you that this administration understand how big a role China will play in this negotiation process moving forward, not only

by influencing the North Koreans but also apparently the American.

A source tell CNN that it was Chinese President Xi Jinping that push President Trump several times over the phone to end those military

exercises, something that President Trump said would happen at that conference in Singapore.

And then there's the sanctions currently in place on North Korea. Here is what the Secretary of State said about those sanctions about speaking with

Japan, South Korea and China.


POMPEO: And each of those three countries has also acknowledged that it is important that the sanctions regime that is in place today remain in place

until such time as that denuclearization is in fact complete.


RIVERS: Now, China which accounts for the bulk of trade with North Korea has said they will continue to in force those sanctions but there is a

pretty general view among analyst here in China that Beijing is going to look for any excuse to roll back some of those sanctions, that they only

grudging signed on to in the first place.

So don't be surprised, expert say if China is the first one to lobby for easing sanctions against the North Koreans at the U.N.

And Zain, as if all of that wasn't enough, remember that the Trump administration may levy $50 billion in tariffs on Chinese imports by the

end of this week, what could be the beginning of this on again, off again trade war, Zain.

ASHER: That Matt Rivers, thanks so much.

And we actually want to show you some interesting note where the video from the Trump-Kim summit earlier this week. It's just been release by the

North Korean state media.

So take a look at this. You can actually see President Trump here. Saluting North Korean general, he first extended his hand then response to

general's salute with one of own. And the reason why we're talking about this aside it's awkward is that not typical protocol for head of state to

salute another countries military officer in that fashion, so a lot of people talking about that.

Meantime, in Argentina crowd erupted with cheers outside of Congress after landmark vote on abortion with 129 votes in favor and 125 of votes against

the lower House passed the bill that would legalize abortion in the first 14 weeks of pregnancy. The debate lasted nearly 23 hours. The bill now

has to Argentina's Senate.

And Germany federal prosecutor confirmed that that a Tunisian man arrested in Cologne successfully produced the highly toxic substance Ricin. The 25-

year-old had been under police investigation on suspicion of planning and attack. The prosecutor's office says there are no signs that is number of

terrorist organization.

And the commemorations are taking place across the U.K. on the one year anniversary of one of Britain's deadliest fire, this brings back so many

emotions for a lot of people from London, from U.K.

The memorial was held earlier in memory of the 72 victims who died in the Grenfell Tower tragedy. In West London, a silent walk took place with a

lot of people, you see them on this video holding up green balloons. They're also carrying green scarf as well. Those colors have actually come

to symbolize the disaster as well.

And Britain's brand new (INAUDIBLE) Duchess of Sussex and Queen Elizabeth observed a minute of silence from the Grenfell victims while in Chester

today. Meghan Markle is letting the ropes from non other than the queen herself from the monic (ph) during his first official world engagement

without her husband Prince Harry. The duchess actually joined the queen for series of events across Northern England including a visit to Chester

town hall.

All right, that is your brief round of international news. I want to you take you back to our Becky Anderson who is running from Moscow.

Becky, I haven't actually gone over the fact that U.S. failed to qualify. It's not quite the same without them specially anchoring (ph) --

ANDERSON: But they get to host the tournament in eight years time,

ASHER: Exactly, so what can you do.

ANDERSON: I'll tell you what, Prince Harry is seating in front of a television watching the first game I'm sure because Zain, 25 minutes away

now. And he is a big football fan.

[10:35:51] Zain, thank you. We will be right back with more of our special coverage in the World Cup gets going.


ANDERSON: Well, welcome back. This is the special edition of CONNECT THE WORLD. I'm Becky Anderson and we are live in Moscow for you where the

opening ceremony of the World Cup is underway. The first game will start about 21 minutes time.

And that will be kick-off for a months worth of football fest. Host Russia, take on Saudi Arabia just minutes from now. This is an event that

truly does CONNECT THE WORLD. Billions of people will watch over the next 32 days leading up to that July 15th final in Moscow.

We are hearing from you our viewers throughout this special broadcast. And we were also following the time and building at the World Cup fan zone.

And we will get you to that shortly.

But let's get back to my guest, my panel as it were. Here I got Alex Thomas with me and Peter who until very recently was a football of the

highest caliber. Are you playing for Nigeria? When you build up to a tournament like this, what does it feel like as player?

ODEMWINGIE: It's a dream come true because that's when you can make name because in the first African Cup I've played they went to my house, when

after scoring goals, put m dad on shoulder and took him around the street, so he can get that much.

So, making your parents proud, your family obviously and remembering yourself how you cerebrated every goal, that's the image always came to my

mind like I use to dress up in the full kit nearly putting my shin pads on when Nigeria was playing games.

So when they score I ran out and ran around the street. So I'm like am I going to do that to the boys, who are trying to be footballer. So those

things always in the back of your mind.


ODEMWINGIE: And when I scored in Brazil, I just felt so light because my mind went home how people jump off their seats. So that's why this event

is something really place forward.

ANDERSON: Alex, this is your forth event. Coming out. How this stock up compared to those that you've covered in the pass, Brazil, South Africa.

THOMAS: Yes, very early days when flew on Saturday we're like hold on. Did we come to write place. Is there a World Cup? Having a little bit

harsh a few banners around. But very quickly the atmosphere is change certainly over the last 24 to 48 hours.

And we are here obviously and what is normally a tourist spot anyway Basil Cathedral, but we've seen all the fans are writing in shirts of every

nationality of the teams playing here, blowing their ball, they have horn, which I do not like ever since (INAUDIBLE).

So old grumpy but the atmosphere has been wonderful. And fans have been cheering and dancing in the street and that's what I want to say.

ANDRRSON: Well, talk about football shirts and big and a sort of the kit for your team that we've seen in many fans here.

[10:40:02] FIFA will kick-off around photo shoot over 700 players and the 30 coaches who will be playing here at the FIFA 2018 tournament.

In some cases all the choice of the post didn't quite, I don't think match the standard of the skills. And look at this, I found Iceland's Aron

Gunnarsson quite hilarious. Can we bring that one up? I'm not quite sure what he's doing here.

If he tell you he can really plays where the paper bag or what, I don't know. Alex which was stood out for you?

THOMAS: I think Christian Eriksen, who plays the English premier league with Tottenham Hotspur quietly understated a bit like Luka Modric who then

move on to Real Madrid.


THOMAS: So I think Arab might do the same thing. And you could tell from his photos that not really comfortable with doing the sort of glamorous

thing that you as a modern football repeat at this year you'll know have to do. It's not just enough to be good on pit. You kind of pose.

We can't pull up the shoot right now but you look a little bit --

ANDERSON: There it is.

THOMAS: There we are. He doesn't look comfortable doesn't he?

ANDERSON: He doesn't look comfortable at all.

THOMAS: He does look he's been caught unaware. And yes, he hasn't quite the bravado (ph) but Cristiano Ronaldo.

ANDERSON: But as the first fan, I don't care what he looks like. (INAUDIBLE) it's funny just really in football, he was (INAUDIBLE).

Peter, you got to look through this. What was your favorite?

ODEMWINGIE: (INAUDIBLE) that was my teammate it look funny, he don't the expectation. He came here to win it. But they'll probably know they

won't. But how far they will go it's the question.

My attention the Nigeria one where again our key game to --

THOMAS: John Obi Mikel, right?

ODEMWINGIE: Yes, John Obi Mikel had been fun this, look at his face. He's so happy. But my message is don't get too excited because we were given

the best looking team, best looking kit sold out within a day obviously released.

THOMAS: Just keeping each other laughing during the World Cup matter by --

ODEMWINGIE: It does by the same time you need to know how serious of thing it is. So now I think it's time to get that excitement out of the way,

because on the match day we'll see if FIFA budge (ph) on it that it gets even worst.

THOMAS: Really game face on.

ODEMWINGIE: Well, it's really happening then you come out and see 50,000 spectators and you're like OK, it's actually about this not about all the


ANDERSON: Did you by the way go out and buy that kit?

ODEMWINGIE: No, I don't buy, we're going to ask some of the friend to keep some for me because the first day came out my friend --

ANDERSON: It sold out.

ODEMWINGIE: Well, actually golfers they send what is, please I love that Nigeria kit, I want it, can you get it?

ANDERSON: All right. Before we move on, Peter. If you'd be in that line up with these ridiculous, what would your pose have been, this time go on.

ODEMWINGIE: Well, now?

ANDERSON: Yes. Give me the pose. Now in front of the camera.

ODEMWINGIE: Maybe for Reynaldo. And we're getting the small size probably. Get the model look kind of run away.

ANDERSON: Well, bless you. But listen, we all know the pain we can see something going wrong but the referee come. I'm going to talk about, maybe

this around we'll shout the TV be a little less because three letters VAR, right? As video assistant referee pretty call technically. It let

officials reply decision on a goal penalty, a red card right there and then.

FIFA has a referee said it's meant to reduce player intimidation of the officials. This what he said.


PIERLUIGI, COLLINA, CHAIRMAN, FIFA REFEREES' COMMITTEE: It's a matter of protecting the image on the game and having the referee surrounded by

players at war screaming, shouting and this is something that cannot happen.

So we were very clear with our referees. They know that they cannot accept this kind of behavior.


ANDERSON: So he says VAR is all about insuring that they can get away from this player intimidation. As a player, what do you think the VAR?

ODEMWINGIE: It's a 50-50 to be honest. At first I wasn't sure about it because disrupts the pace of the play and it depends on how many times you

can question a decision. Obviously it's all about the big decisions they're being right because it affected England in the past and other


So, it's a bit of common sense that yes we can -- there's no hiding place for no one now. But I think it takes away the fact that how do you define

like a best referee in the world like Pierluigi Collina is.

ANDERSON: Yes, it's right. Look, I know that there will be thousands of people in side that stadium now. Some 80,000 with 15 minutes to go and

there are thousands more at Sparrow Hills, which is the huge fans zone set up for those who aren't lucky enough to get a ticket and that is where Fred

Pleitgen is.

Fred, let's get you to soak up the atmosphere as you will.

FRED PLEITGEN, CNN SENIOR INTENATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Yes, Becky. First of all, I need to apologize because we might have audio issue because

they're still blasting music from the opening ceremony here as well.

And you know four years ago as the fan zone, which was beautiful of Copacabana in Rio de Janeiro and I really thought that nothing could

compare to that. But this fans are certainly does. But I don't know we can pan out a little bit. You can see we're right at the Moscow --

[10:45:02] ANDERSON: I lost -- all right. Well, he thought we might have technical issues and we did. There you go.

THOMAS: We're lucky he warned us.

ANDERSON: That's really -- thank you Fred for that.

THOMAS: Yes, that (INAUDIBLE) another open on Sunday Becky. And it was immediately 25,000 sellout, that was the day after we arrive thinking where

is the atmosphere gone, the reason appetite for this World Cup tournament.

ANDERSON: Yes, good. Going back to what we're just talking about. This VAR technology grumpy game, what are you thinking about?

THOMAS: I'm really in favor of it. And for the England concern, I think Peter was probably referring too. I was lucky enough to be at that

England-Germany game. I think around 16 at South Africa 2010.

I think it was like England (INAUDIBLE) down when Frank Lampard's scored the goal that clearly the ball went over the line off the cross bar. Now

with modern smartphone technology, everyone was sending clips to their friends and the fans. I was one of them.

And you see it was goal, but the referee was not allowed to refer to those replays that were being around the world and it was fast, every knew it was

goal. He wasn't allowed to give it. I think it would made it different Germany were far better on the day and would beat England.

That's when I'm glad it's come in. I understand the issues about how long it takes to come to a decision but if you got the technology. I think you

got to use it when it's obvious to those background (ph).

ANDERSON: Well, man we know who is a huge fan (INAUDIBLE) yes, is Robbie Williams, who as we speak in entertaining the crowd at the stadium just

ahead the Russia-Saudi Arabia kick-off due in about 12 minutes time.

And we've just been sent some video of him warming up. Have a look at this. He'd love it. You know that just standing in the stadium have

81,000. He's laughing it up Alex isn't he?

THOMAS: We're watching some of the coverage down at the corner of that and we know they get really nervous. He looks like someone that's got the

temperament for the biggest occasion. But in interviews he's admitted how nervous he gets and it doesn't get much bigger in the start of the first

ever World Cup in Russia.

But he's absolutely knocking park will again.

ANDERSON: You like Robbie Williams?



ODEMWINGIE: He obviously has great year (ph) and made people happy.

ANDERSON: Let me entertain you. I'm assume he will be one of those today.

THOMAS: He know, we allow to say no, it's underway. FIFA is -- it was (INAUDIBLE) he was going to sing Angles along with a young Russian Opera

called Aida Garifullina, he was a bit of star around this parts. So that could be quite politic too, so a bit rock. A bit of sort of mood music as

well, just set us up to the game.

ANDERSON: Very nice. All right, let's be -- we're on air. We've just heard about best wishes for the Saudi's at least from Israel. And that is

to a country you wouldn't expect them to be sending best wishes to the Israeli foreign ministry wishing Saudi Arabia success in the opening match.

He just Twitted "Good luck Saudi" on it's Arabic language Twitter page.

Much more coming for you as we can count down to the beginning of what will be this beautiful tournament. It's a beautiful day and it's FIFA 2018.

It's a World Cup. We are nearly at kick-off.

Stay with us.


ANDERSON: Well, you're watching CNN's Special Coverage from the 2018 World Cup, which is taking place right here in Russia where the opening ceremony

kick-off just moments ago at Moscow's Luzhniki Stadium.

Well, that was the opening ceremony. The game will kick-off in just over nine minutes time as the host nation itself takes on Saudi Arabia.

[10:50:05] Bringing back my panel here at CNN World Sport on Alex Thomas, more what we can expect from the game and also former Nigerian footballer

Peter is still with us here.

What do you expect from this opening game, Peter?

ODEMWINGIE: Well, I don't know.

ANDERSON: There's a lot, I think.

ODEMWINGIE: I think, I want Russian to win obviously. The atmosphere will even brighten up most miles from the locals, so.

THOMAS: What is feels lot as not as many goals when there's a big pressure game like this?

ODEMWINGIE: Yes, because you're not losing up. You're decision making is deferent, when you actually get the chance, when you in front of the goal

you usually rush it on the pressure, that's why called like cold blooded strikers that OK, that's really (INAUDIBLE).

ANDERSON: For those of our viewers who want as the beginning of this hour as a kid you grew up here of course. Your mom Russian, you're dad's

Nigerian. You play for Nigeria. But as a kid you play for a team here in Moscow during Soviet time.

You were telling us that things have change a lot since them.

ODEMWINGIE: Yes, definitely. Definitely it changed. That's now in 90s we have what 20 years ago. There are numbers, more numbers at especially in

smaller towns that like on car you're like talking away from Moscow, before maybe the foreigners will come they will stay in Moscow like foreigners

will go to England and want to live in London.

So the Moscow the city populous spot, so now the curiosity of same foreigners is less now in the smaller cities, which will also see in the

water (ph)

ANDERSON: Let's talk some query facts as we move towards the opening game here seven more minutes before that. FIFA shown some pretty query facts

about all of the teams competing in Russian.

Some it seems reached greater highs than other. Take a look at the tallest teams in the tournament. Serbia at the top, that also quite predictable

actually after that which Sweden, Iceland and Denmark all up there.

THOMAS: Yes, all the Germans have a tall team.

ANDERSON: OK. Yes, like I say we're all surprised to see --

THOMAS: Along the side I need to -- be more certain.

ANDERSON: Yes, FIFA right about --

ODEMWINGIE: And we will see direct --

ANDERSON: Who do you think is the shortest? Don't look?

THOMAS: And so look, I can't think of another team.

ANDERSON: Saudi Arabi came as the shortest but the Japan sitting just one rank higher. Football isn't just about huge tournament like this, it's

about people like all us of course having a kick of outside.

In fact it's where many of the best players got going. So a new project called Goal Click giving out cameras aims to capture that.

I want you guys have a look at this.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: As a sport instructor I cooperated with Goal Click to take photos around Egypt. And these photos represented what football means

to me.

This program is available in 29 countries around the world and Egypt is one of them. The goal is to reach and served marginalized groups such as

children and women. And increase their participation with its society.

We like to empower them through the game of football. And we have managed through each over 100,000 children in all the governance of region,

including to some areas.

Wonderful though in particular stood out. It showed a veiled woman playing football with two boys. This represents how woman can maintain their

cultures and traditions, while still practicing their hubbies.

Before this program is unable to identify my goals within my community, but now I know it is to serve society through football, the sport which they

all love.


ANDERSON: It was Nelson Mandela of course he said sport has a power to change the world. And you said something about this the ball are going to

inspire people.

ODEMWINGIE: Absolutely. At home actually I have a little dog, my Chihuahua loves the ball more than anyone else. He plays around, our cats,

my mom has cats. They were placed with ball also even animals love -- yes, it always there is something special about that unites people with make us

one to compete with the children. It's brings together as you said, yes.

THOMAS: I'm similar to Peter have a chance to travel the world through football when maybe otherwise you might another done. And from your travel

Becky that you can be in the most far home place and there'll be a kid wearing a Messi jersey or Ronaldo.

ANDERSON: Yes. We were in Syrian refugee camp actually recently or Jordanian refugee come with many, many Syrian kids. Many of them been born

at this refugee and the quality of the football there.

Prince Ali actually of Jordan who's put his efforts behind this pitch and this environment.

THOMAS: Former FIFA Presidential.

ANDERSON: Correct, correct. And it was absolutely brilliant to see how good and how into this kids were. So again, football is one of those games

that can really inspire.

We are about 4 and half minutes away from the opening game. Last thought for this hour, but you're going to stay with me for the following hour.

What are you hoping for most out of this tournament.

[10:55:08] ODEMWINGIE: Everyone happy, but first maybe a change in perception of the country a little bit at politics to that part. Let them

play their game and we are sportsmen we'll push our own perception of the world and how it should be.

Because in football actually within the dressing room there's never been racism, so I think all fans around the world have to take the message that

if we can get on, you guys in the seats have to get on with each other as well. So I think it's come to that seen.

THOMAS: Yes. We want to see people safe and secure. But there are so many great players and some really tough international teams at the time

and people say, crowd football is getting better. They're actually could be a piece of football here they need to see some goals going early and

lets get the excitement levels up.

ANDERSON: Yes, let's hope for some goals in the magic kicks off just a couple of minutes from now. This is goodbye for this hour. But not

goodbye for good because this is a very special two-hour edition of CONNECT THE WORLD live from this beautiful city of Moscow.

We will be back with a lot more. Do not go anywhere stay tuned, back after this.