MOSCOW: Gianni Infantino has sought to swing the World Cup focus back from the muddled 2026 bid campaign to the imminent finals in Russia.

The president of world federation FIFA insisted on a flying visit to Russia that the host nation was “absolutely ready to host the world, to celebrate a summer of festivities here in this beautiful country.”

Not quite absolute, in fact, since Infantino added the rider that Russia was “99pc (ready) because there is still some work to be done.”

Russian President Vladimir Putin was among Infantino’s audience ahead of the finals from June 14 to July 15.

Earlier, he told Infantino at their own meeting: “We understand our responsibility, we understand that much still needs to be done… all the events are still ahead.”

Putin also urged Russia’s own team – which may struggle to progress beyond the first round – to rise to the occasion.

He said: “We are all hoping that our players will be fully in the game, will give themselves entirely and – most importantly – that they play the strong-willed, uncompromising football that our fans value and love.”

** Paulo Guerrero, captain of Peru, has appeared before the Court of Arbitration for Sport to contest an application from the World Anti-Doping Agency for the extension of a doping ban which would cause him to miss the World Cup finals.