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ST. PETERSBURG, June 17. /TASS, Yevgeny Ionov/. An official opening ceremony for the 2017 FIFA Confederations Cup in Russia was held in front of almost fully packed spectators’ stands of the newly-built football stadium in the country’s second largest city of Saint Petersburg.
The 20-minute ceremony involved some 1,500 participants, who displayed various scenes of traditions and culture of four cities in Russia, selected to host the global football tournament this year.
An the end of the ceremony, the mascot of the 2017 Confederations Cup, charming wolf Zabivaka, descended on an artificial clod from the top of the stadium and made a first symbolic kick of the ball across the pitch to signal the opening of the tournament.
The tournament’s first match will be played between hosts Russia and team New Zealand at 18:00 local time.
The over 68,000-seat capacity stadium designed to host the 2017 FIFA Confederations Cup and the 2018 FIFA World Cup matches was laid down in the western portion of Krestovsky Island in St. Petersburg in 2007. The construction project was amended three times: in 2008, 2010 and 2013.
The new football arena in St. Petersburg is hosting the opening and final matches of the Confederations Cup, also dubbed as the Tournament of Champions.
The FIFA Confederations Cup is viewed by experts as a rehearsal for the organizers, with only one year to go to the FIFA World Cup.
This year’s tournament is held between June 17 and July 2 at four stadiums in Russia and they are Spartak Stadium in Moscow, St. Petersburg Stadium, Fisht Stadium in Sochi and the Kazan Arena in Kazan.
Participants in 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 champs Portugal, OFC (Oceania Football Confederation) Nations Cup victors New Zealand and 2017 CAF Africa Cup of Nations Champion Cameroon.