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SOCHI, March 1. /TASS/. Authorities of the Russian Black Sea resort city of Sochi applied enormous efforts to prepare the Fisht Arena for hosting matches of the 2017 FIFA Confederations Cup, due to kick off in less than four months, FIFA’s Director of Competitions Colin Smith said on Wednesday.
A delegation of the world’s governing body of football FIFA, led by Smith, began on Monday its fifth operating visit to Russia, namely to the cities of St. Petersburg, Sochi, Moscow and Kazan, which were selected to host matches both of the 2017 Confederations Cup and 2018 World Cup.
The current visit of the FIFA delegation is due to end on March 3 and on Wednesday the delegates arrived in Sochi, following their calls at St. Petersburg on Monday and Kazan on Tuesday.
Smith told journalists after his visit to the Fisht Arena that Sochi is a unique place as it is shouldered by mountains on the one side and washed by the sea from the other. The stadium, he continued, successfully undergoes reconstruction works as it is being adapted for hosting football matches.
Enormous work had been done but a lot still needs to be done to readjust the gigantic arena ahead of the 2017 Confederations Cup and the local authorities are well aware of this fact, the FIFA official said.
Last December, the Russian Football Union (RFU) officially announced that the over 47,700-seat capacity Fisht football arena in Sochi, would host on March 28 a friendly match between the Russian and Belgian national football teams and that match would be both a trial and an inaugural game at the reconstructed facility.
The Fisht Arena, which hosted the opening and closing ceremonies of the 2014 Winter Olympics and Paralympics in Sochi, is currently under reconstruction works to be adjusted for hosting matches of the 2017 FIFA Confederations Cup and 2018 FIFA World Cup.
The FIFA Confederations Cup, which is also viewed by experts as a rehearsal a year prior to the FIFA World Cup, will be held between June 17 and July 2 at four stadiums in Russia and they are Moscow’s Otkritie-Arena, the St. Petersburg Arena, Sochi’s Fisht Arena and the Kazan-Arena.
Participants of the 2017 Confederations Cup 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, OFC (Oceania Football Confederation) Nations Cup winners New Zealand and 2017 CAF Africa Cup of Nations Champion Cameroon.
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 Cameroon.
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.