All news

Croatia’s Assistant Coach Olic: Fisht Stadium ‘was the best’ at 2018 FIFA World Cup

FIFA President Gianni Infantino said after the world championship that Russia staged "the best World Cup ever"

MOSCOW, June 17. /TASS, Andrei Mikhailov/. Fisht Stadium in the Russian southern resort city of Sochi was the best among other Russian stadiums, which hosted matches of the 2018 FIFA World Cup, Ivica Olic, an assistant coach of the Croatian national football team, told TASS on Monday.

"I just cannot forget the time I spent here in Russia," Olic, who also played for Russian football club CSKA Moscow in 2003-2006, said in an interview with TASS. "The championship was held in the country, where I have achieved great success as a player."

"After I parted with CSKA I came here only on several occasions," he continued. "I was once with the national team in Rostov-on-Don and once with Wolfsburg in Krasnodar."

Olic said that when he played for CSKA Moscow FC between 2003 and 2006 there were almost no stadiums in Russia to host matches of such level.

"When I assumed my current post in the Croatian national football team we already knew that we will be playing there [in Russia] and my first question was whether they would manage to build the stadiums on time," the Croatian coach stated. "I was very impressed when I came here and saw the stadiums."

"After the final I told the president and the everyone else that personally for me this championship was the best ever in terms of the organization, stadiums and everything else," Olic, who played for the Croatian national team in 2002-2015, added.

The Croatian national football team reached the final of the 2018 FIFA World Cup in Russia, ousting hosts Russia in the quarterfinals and then beating England in the semifinals. In the final match at the 80,000-seat capacity Luzhniki Stadium in Moscow Croatia lost 2-4 to France to become the world’s vice champions.

In all, Croatia played seven matches at the 2018 World Cup - two matches at the stadium in Nizhny Novgorod, two at the Luzhniki Stadium in Moscow and matches in Kaliningrad, Sochi and Rostov-on-Don.

"I was impressed with all stadiums, because they were not the same and each was unique," Olic continued. "However, if I was to choose the only one and name the best in my own opinion, I will select the stadium in Sochi, because I was there for the first time, because it hosted the [2014] Winter Olympics and also because of the weather and the sea."

"We played against Russia at the Fisht Stadium and were waiting for the match for nearly a week," he said. "We had plenty of time there, I had the chance to look around and perhaps this is why I liked it the most."

The Fisht stadium was built for the Winter Olympic Games in Sochi in 2014. The stadium, which hosted the opening and closing ceremonies of the Winter Olympics, was later reconstructed to host the matches of the 2018 FIFA World Cup. The over 44,000-seat capacity stadium is located in Sochi Olympic Park and was named after Mount Fisht.

"Nizhny Novgorod is also a beautiful city and was this was also my first visit to this city," Olic said. "I was already acquainted with Rostov-on-Don because I was there when I played in the Russian championship."

"Kaliningrad was something new for me, because it is located on the other part of the country and I had never been there before the World Cup, but it also has a nice stadium. I can say that it [Kaliningrad] looks like a classical European city," Olic added.

Last summer Russia hosted its first-ever FIFA World Cup, which kicked off in Moscow with a remarkable opening show at Luzhniki Stadium on the evening of June 14. Russia selected 11 host cities as the venues for the matches of the 2018 World Cup and they were Moscow, St. Petersburg, Sochi, Kazan, Saransk, Kaliningrad, Volgograd, Rostov-on-Don, Nizhny Novgorod, Yekaterinburg and Samara.

FIFA President Gianni Infantino said after the world championship that Russia staged "the best World Cup ever." According to the Russian Federal Agency for Tourism, some 2.9 million foreign visitors arrived in Russia last summer for the FIFA World Cup.