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Putin Attending World Cup Finale in Brazil

Russian President Vladimir Putin is attending both the final match and the closing ceremony of the World Cup in Brazil on Sunday, as his country prepares to take on the responsibility of hosting the tournament in four years' time.

Putin is one of about 80,000 fans attending the winner-takes-all match at the Macarana Stadium in Rio de Janeiro, with the game between Germany and Argentina expected to pull in millions more television viewers worldwide.

The Russian leader is also due to take part in the tournament's closing ceremony, where he will receive a symbolic World Cup baton from Brazilian President Dima Rousseff, Kremlin aide Yury Udhakov was quoted as saying by state news agency RIA Novosti.

Putin may even have a chance to mix business with pleasure in Brazil as German Chancellor Angela Merkel is also due at the Macarana Stadium to cheer her team on against the Argentinians. The two leaders have been in regular contact over the Ukraine crisis.

"It is certainly possible that there will be a meeting and a short conversation with President Putin, but due to the tight schedule it is unlikely this would be a comprehensive discussion. We have to wait and see," the German chancellor's spokesman Steffen Seibert said, Reuters reported Friday.

Following a 7-1 victory over host nation Brazil in the semi-finals, Germany is surely the favorite win the trophy on Sunday. Germany's opponent, Argentina, required extra time and penalties to secure its passage to the final with a hard-fought win over Holland.

The Russian national team, meanwhile, crashed out of the tournament at the group stages, having failed to record a win in a pool that included Algeria, South Korea and Belgium.

Players and fans alike will be hoping for a better performance on home soil in four years' time, with games due to be played in stadiums across Russia, from the Ural Mountain city of Yekaterinburg to the capital Moscow.

See also:

Russian Orthodox Priest Says Football Is Gay – Because of Its Shoes

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