A feeling of anticipation and excitement filled the Saint Petersburg Stadium today as football legends, guests, children and the Russian mascot Zabivaka gathered in the magnificent arena to celebrate 100 days to go to the FIFA Confederations Cup. As if the Opening Match between hosts Russia and Oceania champions New Zealand was about to start, the team kits of both teams were carefully arranged in the dressing rooms, kids walked on the pitch with flags, while the FIFA anthem was played, and Brazilian football icon and FIFA Confederations Cup winner Cafu brought the coveted trophy onto the pitch.
“This stadium is fantastic. It is a modern venue in a beautiful city hosting a very important tournament", said Cafu. “I have great memories of the Confederations Cup. It is a very competitive and short competition, which I am proud to have won. And of course, it is a great way for teams and hosts to prepare for the World Cup”.
Next to Cafu in Saint Petersburg were veterans of the Russian national team – goalkeeper Vyacheslav Malafeev, defender Dmitry Sennikov and midfielders Roman Shirokov, Evgeny Aldonin and Alexey Smertin. While fans cannot wait to fill the stadiums in Saint Petersburg, Moscow, Kazan and Sochi – especially those who have already guaranteed their tickets – the organisers are focused on the final stretch of the preparations.
“Not only in 2018, but in 100 days, the eyes of the world of football will be set on Russia," said FIFA Secretary General Fatma Samoura. "It is a big responsibility but also a great opportunity. The best teams from each region of the world will be here. The current World Cup champions will be here. The defending best player in the world will also be here. Together with the LOC, the host cities and Russia, we are working hard and on the right track to deliver an unforgettable tournament for the locals and the whole world to enjoy."
"We celebrate 100 days to the FIFA Confederations Cup in Saint Petersburg, the capital of the ‘Tournament of the champions’, in just a few months," said LOC General Director Alexey Sorokin. "Not only Saint Petersburg but also Moscow, Kazan and Sochi are practically ready for the tournament.
"All our efforts are focused on making the Confederations Cup unforgettable," he continued. "Everybody still recalls the Confederations Cup 2013 in Brazil where the hosts overcame Spain in the final thanks to overwhelming support from the fans. I hope that fans at the Confederations Cup 2017 support their teams with the same passion."
In his position as city governor, Georgy Poltavchenko spoke about how Saint Petersburg is preparing for the Tournament of Champions. The beautiful city by the Neva River will host not only the opening contest but also the final match, which will determine who takes home the trophy, which was displayed for the first time on the pitch of the Saint Petersburg Stadium.
"The city is preparing for the Confederations Cup and the FIFA World Cup very seriously," explained Saint Petersburg governor Georgi Poltavchenko. "We’ve built a magnificent stadium that not only has become the biggest multifunctional staging area in Saint Petersburg but also a real ornament of the city. The whole city is preparing for the celebration of football, from hotels, restaurants and our transportation system, to construction workers, medical staff and communication specialists. Many citizens will work at the Confederations Cup and the FIFA World Cup as volunteers, too. We’ve done everything possible to ensure sportsmen and guests alike will be met by both comfort and security."
The FIFA Confederations Cup takes place between 17 June and 2 July, featuring hosts Russia, FIFA World Cup winner Germany and the reigning champions of all six confederations: Australia (AFC), Cameroon (CAF), Chile (CONMEBOL), Mexico (CONCACAF), New Zealand (OFC) and Portugal (UEFA). Match tickets are currently on sale at FIFA.com/tickets.