Cosmonauts play football aboard International Space Station as the 2018 World Cup kicks off tonight

The World Cup kicks off in Russia tonight, and two cosmonauts aboard the ISS celebrate the event with a little microgravity football action of their own

As the markets get quieter and Google dedicates its homepage to football in anticipation of the 2018 World Cup that will kick off on Thursday, cosmonauts aboard the International Space Station (ISS) show that they will not be left behind in celebrating the biggest football event on the planet (and perhaps even beyond).

A video released by the Russian space agency Roscosmos on YouTube shows cosmonauts Oleg Artemyev and Anton Shkaplerov playing football in micro-gravity on the ISS; the setup complete with an official 2018 FIFA World Cup ball.

Both cosmonauts pulled off a variety of acrobatic flips, kicks and ball spins — terribly photogenic moves that are clearly easier without Earth's gravity — while donning a "Russia 2018" jersey to mark the occasion.

Cosmonauts play football aboard International Space Station as the 2018 World Cup kicks off tonight

Russian cosmonauts playing football aboard the ISS. Image: Twitter/@OlegMKS

"A great football holiday is expected not only on Earth, but also in space! Astronauts Anton Shkaplerov and Oleg Artemyev conducted some football training at the International Space Station. Especially for this purpose, the official ball of the championship was delivered on board, which is planned to be returned to Earth along with the crew of a manned spacecraft," an official statement said in Russian.

Earlier in May, Artemyev had also tweeted about how excited he was ahead of the world cup.

The football arrived at the ISS on 21 March along with the Expedition 55 crew, which included Artemyev, a report said. The ball came back down to Earth on 3 June aboard a Russian Soyuz spacecraft carrying Shkaplerov, Norishige Kanai of the Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency and NASA astronaut Scott Tingle, the report added.

The same ball will also be used during the first match of the FIFA World Cup, which will be played between hosts Russia and Saudi Arabia.

Follow all the latest updates from FIFA World Cup 2018 here

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