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MOSCOW, November 28. /TASS/. Brazilian midfielder Julio Baptista presented in TASS News Agency on Monday the FIFA Confederations Cup trophy, which will be contested in Russia next year by eight nations.
"Undoubtedly, the Confederations Cup is extremely important for the world of football," Baptista, who is the winner of the 2005 and 2009 FIFA Confederations Cups, said in an interview with TASS.
"Many call it the Tournament of Champions, because it brings together the national teams, which became the champions of their continents," Baptista said. "It is necessary to become a winner in order to qualify for it (the Confederations Cup)."
"The tournament is very important for the hosting country as well," the 35-year-old midfielder, who played 47 matches for the national Brazilian team in 2001-2010, said. "For instance during the Confederations Cup in Brazil, the whole country was paralyzed as people were watching the tournament and anticipating the upcoming (2014 FIFA) World Cup."
"I believe that the same situation will be here in Russia as well since it is a chance to get closer to the teams and to see the famous players from the world of football," Baptista said. "It is also a good chance for the Russian national team to demonstrate itself during the home matches both at the Confederations Cup and the World Cup."
The 2017 FIFA Confederations Cup will be held between June 17 and July 2 at four stadiums in Russia and they are Otkritie-Arena in Moscow, Zenit-Arena in St. Petersburg, Fisht in Sochi and Kazan-Arena in Kazan.
Seven nations have already qualified for the 2017 Confederations Cup and they are hosts Russia, 2014 FIFA World Cup Champions Germany, 2015 Copa America Champions Chile, 2015 AFC Asian Cup Champion Australia, 2015 CONCACAF Gold Cup winners Mexico, 2016 UEFA Euro Cup winners Portugal and OFC (Oceania Football Confederation) Nations Cup winners New Zealand. The remaining eighth nation will be determined following the 2017 Africa Cup of Nations.
The Draw for the 2017 FIFA Confederations Cup was held on November 26 in the Russian city of Kazan. Following the draw hosts Russia was placed in Group A alongside with Portugal, Mexico and New Zealand. Group B has brought together Germany, Chile, Australia and the winner of the Africa Cup of Nations.
The opening game will be held in St. Petersburg on June 17 between Russia and New Zealand. Russia will face Portugal in Moscow on June 21 and on June 24 it will play Mexico in Kazan.
After the group stage matches, two best teams from each group will clash in the semifinals, due to be held in Kazan and Sochi respectively. On July 2, Moscow will be the venue for the third-place match, whereas the final will be played in St. Petersburg.