World Cup 2018 ambassador and Manchester United fan Victoria Lopyreva is desperate for Paul Pogba to remain at the club this summer despite his frosty relationship with manager Jose Mourinho.
Pogba’s future at Old Trafford has been cast into doubt following a difficult second half to the 2017-18 season in which he was dropped from the starting XI for a number of big games amid reports of a falling-out with his Portuguese boss.
“Mourinho is a winner, he is used to winning. Pogba is a super-cool player and sometimes when there are two people who both have great personality, there can be a kind of tension between them,” Lopyreva told Goal in an exclusive sit-down interview in London.
“But it’s not such a conflict that Pogba would leave. And I really wish, as a Manchester United supporter, that Pogba will stay because, honestly, I cannot imagine the team without him.”
Lopyreva, an actress, presenter and model, is a huge star in her native country and has been labelled the ‘Face of Russia 2018’.
She is the World Cup’s official ambassador and she says that Pogba has been very kind to support her zero discrimination World Cup programme, which aims to tackle prejudice against all social groups.
“I’m a UNAIDS ambassador for the World Cup and I’m running a zero discrimination programme. I asked a few football players to support me,” Lopyreva explained.
“Pogba’s a very nice guy and I say thanks to him for supporting me, along with Neymar, Brazil national team coach Tite and Francesco Totti. Leo Messi has promised to support me also.
“It’s a great message and we need to spread this message as much as we can.”
There have been concerns outside of Russia ahead of the World Cup about security, hooliganism and the tolerance towards some racial and social groups, like the LGBT community.
These concerns have been heightened following some recent political tensions between Russia and some countries in the West, particularly England.
However, Lopyreva is confident that the tournament will be a big success and that everyone travelling to Russia will feel safe and welcome.
“First of all, I share your thoughts [about the concerns] and I am super-happy that this is the first World Cup supported by UNAIDS programmes for zero discrimination,” she explained.
“This means that the main FIFA message for this World Cup is: everyone is welcome. Of course, everywhere you can find good and bad people. And if someone really wants to do something bad, they will probably try to do that. But security is so high that it will be not so easy.
“And I think that the concentration of positive emotions in this World Cup is going to be on a very high level. People will go to Russia not to fight with each other but to celebrate. Football is something that really unites people.
“I believe that football is out of politics and it doesn’t matter what nationality you are, what your social background is, what colour skin you have, all other football fans are your friends. Football is a universal language.
“I’m very excited, like all other Russians. It’s going to be the best World Cup ever and it is going to be the safest World Cup ever.”
The 2018 World Cup kicks off on June 14 at the Luzhniki Stadium in Moscow as hosts Russia take on Saudi Arabia.