On 7 July 2018, SCO Secretary-General Rashid Alimov and Russia's Ambassador to China Andrei Denisov launched a football tournament in Beijing, timed to coincide with the 2018 FIFA World Cup in Russia. The two officials marked the opening by making the first two kicks in the presence of diplomats from all the SCO members states, as well as representatives of the Russian diaspora and local residents.
"For three weeks now the entire planet has been anxiously following the most spectacular World Cup in history that is taking place in Russia," Mr Alimov said ahead of the opening match. "We have come here today to express our support. In just a few hours the match between Russia and Croatia will begin, and we hope that the Russian team makes it into the World Cup semi-final," the SCO Secretary-General pointed out.
Andrei Denisov responded by supporting the words of the SCO Secretary-General. "All I can add is加油 or ‘Go for it!' as people say here in China," the diplomat pointed out.
Three friendly matches were held to support the 2018 FIFA World Cup in Russia with three teams: an SCO team, a youth team from Qingdao (Shandong Province, east China) and a corporate team made up of members of the Vanke Corporation at the football pitch of Chaoyang Park in central Beijing.
The players exchanged memorable gifts ahead of the match. Despite heavy rain that started during the match, players continued to fight for the tournament trophy to the very end, cheered on by their families, including a three-month-old infant.
In the first match, the Qingdao youth team dominated the SCO team with 3-2; and in the second match the corporate team defeated the Qingdao team 6-4. The third match between the SCO team and the corporate team was the tensest encounter of the tournament ending in a 3-3 draw.
"The fact that friendship, peace, mutual understanding and harmony prevail is what matters the most," the SCO Secretary-General pointed out.
Mr Alimov noted that the World Cup in Russia "brought together flags from all across the world, uniting football fans young and old."
"The best football teams from all continents demonstrate the best technique, as well as a beautiful, captivating game," he pointed out.
"Let the energy of the Shanghai Spirit reinvigorate Russian football players on their way to victory! We all wish every success to the Russian team", Mr Alimov said.
The 2018 FIFA World Cup is taking place in Russia between 14 June and 15 July in 11 cities. The opening match was played at "Luzhniki Stadium" between Russia and Saudi Arabia. People in China closely follow the World Cup in Russia, and more than 200,000 Chinese football fans are expected to visit Russia during the month.