After the excitement of France and Sweden, the FIFA World Cup™ Trophy Tour by Coca-Cola headed east for an action-packed stint in Russia and Ukraine. Russia was privileged to the Trophy travel to two of its cities, with the first appointment a visit to the Coca-Cola HQ in Saint Petersburg, where the local organisers created a village fully dedicated to sport and football. Visitors had the opportunity to participate in the interactive exhibitions and entertaining shows, not to mention enjoying the once in a lifetime experience of seeing and have their photograph taken with the authentic FIFA World Cup Trophy.
The most coveted prize in world sport was also present at the official opening of the ‘Leather ball tournament’, the oldest youth competition in Russia. Andrei, 13, was among the youngsters present: “I am really excited to see the FIFA World Cup Trophy up close. I love sport. I like tennis, swimming, figure skating and volleyball. But my favorite sport is football. I always buy newspapers and magazines to read everything about the greatest game.”
On Saturday, the Trophy moved on to the ‘Peter and Paul Fortress’, where thousands lined the streets and poured into the palace of entertainment alongside the Neva-river in an effort to get a glimpse of the one of the world’s most coveted icons. The following day, it was onwards to Moscow and an audience of politicians, business figures and local sporting officials, including the regional manager of Coca-Cola Lubo Gruich and Stefanos Vafidis, Coca-Cola’s Hellenic General Manager.
Not even the cold weather could discourage excited fans in the Russian capital. Over 8,000 queued throughout the day until nearly midnight on the Red Square to get close to football’s most famous prize.
The Trophy then headed off for its 69th stop in Donetsk, Ukraine on 23 March. There, the privilege of unveiling the Trophy fell to the winners of a children’s mini-football tournament for orphans. “It is a project developed by UNICEF and Coca-Cola Company," explainedUNICEF representative Anna Suchodolska. “The aim is to provide alternatives to children who are living and working on the street. The opportunity to see the FIFA World Cup Trophy gives them the motivation and belief that they can change their lives.”
Mircea Lucescu, head coach of local giants Shakhtar Donetsk, was in full agreement: “We are proud that two young students of our academy were given the honour of unveiling the Trophy in Donetsk. I am sure it has symbolic meaning and will give luck to Ukrainian football players and fans in the future. “
Although Ukraine did not qualify for the 2010 FIFA World Cup in South Africa, FIFA and Coca-Cola brought the spirit of world football forum to the Donbass-Arena and gave all present a chance to feel part of football’s global party.