- FIFA Confederations Cup Park opened in the Russian capital over the weekend
- France legend Marcel Desailly in attendance
- The Park visits Sochi, Kazan and Saint Petersburg next
There is not long to go until the FIFA Confederations Cup 2017, and the party atmosphere of a major football tournament was already in evidence in Moscow over the weekend.
The FIFA Confederations Cup Park set up camp in a popular recreational spot in the capital, the Muzeon Park of Arts, allowing locals to enjoy many different activities, including chatting with football stars, taking part in fun football competitions, getting photos of the FIFA Confederations Cup Winner’s Trophy, and meeting the 2018 FIFA World Cup Russia™'s Official Mascot, Zabivaka™. Overall, it was a great way to spend time with friends or family.
In what was also Moscow’s warmest couple of days in recent months, those who came to the park were clearly left fulfilled. When else do you get a chance to take a selfie with the Trophy, which in two months will belong to the winners of the tournament in Russia? Legendary France defender Marcel Desailly, who captained his country to two triumphs at the competition, was given the honour of bringing the Trophy out onto the main stage.
“I’ve always said that the Confederations Cup is a genuinely gripping competition in its own right,” Desailly explained. “I played at it twice and both times it was very exciting. Top-level sides are coming to Russia and they’ll all take their preparations extremely seriously and be dreaming about winning the cup. I hope Russians get to enjoy top-class football. Come to the stadiums and see for yourself.”
The wolf Zabivaka starred in his role attracting visitors to the entertainment on offer and proved to be just as big a hit as the former footballers. The most popular attraction was 'Robokeeper', the nimblest shot-stopper in the world. Only a few were able to score past the robotic goalkeeper, although Desailly did manage the feat. Nevertheless, the chance to test out the power and accuracy of one’s shot piqued the interest of practically everyone who came.
This was just one of many possible activities at the park: the public could also battle one another in freestyling contests blending football and table tennis, try on national headgear from each FIFA Confederations Cup participating country and get to know the World Cup mascots who came before Zabivaka. There were even opportunities to win tickets to the Confederations Cup in football-related competitions.
“I didn’t think it was possible to think up so many interesting things connected to football,” said 20-year-old Anastasiya Denisova, who came to the park with her friends. “Now I really want to go to this amazing tournament.” The tickets for the tournament, which starts on 17 June, are available at FIFA.com/Tickets.
“We can say that Russia is totally ready to host this tournament,” said Russia’s Deputy Prime Minister and Chairman of the Local Organising Committee, Vitaly Mutko. “We’ve opened Ticketing Centres in every Host City. I’m sure the competition will bring us a lot of joy and we will try to organise it at a high standard. You can already get a taste of the festival of football here in this park.”
Volunteers from all five Russia 2018 Volunteer Centres in Moscow played a crucial role in putting on the event and setting the party mood. Soon they will be doing the same job at the Tournament of Champions.
Desailly impressed with Luzhniki
The park inspired by football naturally included a few kickabouts as well, with Desailly rolling back the years and showing his skills on a small football pitch. As part of his trip to Russia, the Frenchman also managed to squeeze in the Moscow Derby between CSKA and Spartak in the Russian Premier League, and also visit the Luzhniki Stadium, the showpiece arena of Russia 2018 that has recently undergone reconstruction.
“What an amazing stadium! It’s very pragmatic and pleasant to the eye” Desailly said. “The pitch is already in very good condition. I’m sure we’ll have a lot of fun at the World Cup in this beautiful arena”.
After Saturday and Sunday in Moscow, the FIFA Confederations Cup Park will be in Sochi (6-7 May), Kazan (13-14 May) and finally Saint Petersburg (20-21 May).