- FIFA Confederations Cup Park opened in Sochi over the weekend
- Australia legend Harry Kewell in attendance
- Tickets to FIFA Confederations Cup matches available on FIFA.com/Tickets on a first come first serve basis
Australia and Germany kick off their FIFA Confederations Cup 2017 campaign on 19 June in the picturesque resort city of Sochi on the Black Sea. However, you could already feel the football buzz this weekend as the FIFA Confederations Cup Park set up camp on the southern pier of the city’s Sea Port.
Once again, the park, which proved so popular among locals and guests in Moscow the weekend before, attracted large crowds of fans and people out for a stroll along the waterfront. Visitors were able to see the FIFA Confederations Cup Winner’s Trophy up close, win tickets to matches in fun football competitions, learn about the eight countries competing at the tournament, meet the charming Official Mascot for the 2018 FIFA World Cup Russia™ Zabivaka™ and chat with footballing legends.
Former Australia midfielder Harry Kewell opened the park in Sochi, which gave him a glimpse of the city one and a half months before the Socceroos play against the world champions here.
“Sochi is a beautiful place and in some ways reminds me of Australia,” revealed Kewell, who scored 17 goals in 56 matches for his country. “The weather, countryside and where it’s located, for example. I’m sure every Aussie who comes here will enjoy themselves.
“It won’t be an easy task for Australia to match the world champions. I happily invite everyone to come here, go to the stadium and support your team.”
Kids who had been signed up to the exclusive "Going to the FIFA Confederations Cup together with McDonald’s” programme also got a taste of the Park's activities. Next month they will be able to walk out on the pitch with players at the FIFA Confederations Cup matches in Sochi.
The Fisht Olympic Stadium, where the Australians play their long-awaited contest, left a good impression on Kewell. The ex-Liverpool winger also got involved in the football competitions at the park and squared off with former Russia forward Dmitri Bulykin in one of the most popular attractions: the Robokeeper. Scoring past the reliable robotic shotstopper is not that simple, even for such famous footballers as these.
“I’ll tell you what: the FIFA Confederations Cup Park is really cool!” said Bulykin, who is also a Host City Ambassador for Nizhny Novgorod at Russia 2018. “The weather was great, there were loads of different competitions and chances to win tickets to the Confederations Cup – what more could you wish for? With all my heart, I advise everyone who hasn’t visited the park to make sure they do so.”
Next weekend, the FIFA Confederations Cup Park will stop off in Kazan outside the Central Stadium before travelling to Saint Petersburg, where it will be open on Konyushennaya Square on 20-21 May.
Touching distance of the Trophy
The FIFA Confederations Cup Winner’s Trophy on exhibition at the park reminded Kewell of when he came so close to winning this prestigious competition himself.
“I remember how we performed at the Confederations Cup in 1997,” said Kewell, whose goal in the semi-final gave the Socceroos victory over Uruguay. “We were so close to victory, but the final against Brazil panned out the way it did. In any case, I have some great memories from this tournament. For me, the 1997 Confederations Cup is up there with the other big victories I managed in my career, like at the World Cup or the Champions League.”
Kewell hopes that Australia can repeat that success at the FIFA Confederations Cup 2017 in Russia. “Without question, I’ll be supporting Australia,” he concluded. “It’s a very important tournament for us and we put in a lot of effort to get here. I’ll also cheer for the hosts, Russia. I’d say the favourites are Germany – they’re the world champions!”