FIFA head Gianni Infantino on Friday praised Russia as the country's president, Vladimir Putin, said that the World Cup had 'destroyed' negative stereotypes about the country.
"We all fell in love with Russia," Infantino told Putin at a meeting in the Kremlin with several football legends, including former Germany midfielder Lothar Matthaeus.
Matthaeus was named European Footballer of the Year in 1990, when he captained West Germany to the World Cup.
Football fever has spread throughout Russia, especially after the hosts' win against Spain last week to reach the quarter-finals, Infantino said during the televised meeting.
"Russia has become a true football country," said Infantino, who heads football's governing body.
He told Putin that the Russian people were being so friendly and welcoming, adding: "Thank you and thanks to the Russian people."
Putin expressed a similar sentiment in his opening remarks after shaking everyone's hand.
The World Cup has cultivated an "atmosphere of trust and festivity," he said. "Tens of thousands of people have come to Russia from different corners of the globe.
"They can see with their own eyes how they are happily welcomed, how the citizens of our country are happy," Putin said.
Bloggers and other individuals sharing information on social networks have managed to destroy negative stereotypes about Russia, the president said.
"People have seen that Russia is a hospitable country," Putin said.
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