MOSCOW (AP) — The Latest on Saturday at the World Cup (all times local):
French president Emmanuel Macron will travel to the World Cup only if Les Bleus make it to the semifinals.
But the French players will have the support of a former French president during their opening match against Australia in Group C.
FIFA says Nicolas Sarkozy, an avid football fan who served as president from 2007-12, is among the guests at Kazan Arena.
Some soccer fans will follow their team anywhere to see it play in the World Cup. For five friends from Croatia that meant cycling 1,500 kilometers (930 miles) all the way from Zagreb to Kaliningrad in Russia.
The epic trek took them 15 days, cycling for 10 hours a day as they pedaled through Slovenia, Hungary, Slovakia, the Czech Republic and Poland.
On the way they encountered a number of challenges including a broken bridge. As they reached their final destination, the group collapsed into a bar and celebrated with a well-earned drink.
They’re now looking forward to Saturday’s game between Croatia and Nigeria.
Frane Lukovic, a 46-year-old lawyer from Zagreb, insisted it was nothing out of the ordinary for long-distance cyclists such as himself.
For Lukovic, the trip represented a personal comeback, having been diagnosed with skin cancer six years ago.
While fans from around the world are singing and celebrating the World Cup on Moscow’s streets, they can’t go to the most famous place in the Russian capital — Red Square.
Barriers staffed by police officers have blocked off the square for several days, with authorities citing the need to build and dismantle stages for a national holiday and a World Cup-themed opera performance last Tuesday and Wednesday.
Mexico supporter Cesar Reyes, peering past the barriers, says “it’s a real shame it’s closed because it’s one of the best places to visit when you’re in Moscow. It’s a real shame that people will miss it because it’s closed for special event and there’s no opportunity to appreciate this building.”
Russian police have closed off a number of roads and other areas for security reasons over recent days. It’s unclear when the square will be reopened.