This summer’s FIFA Confederations Cup gave global soccer fans a preview of World Cup 2018. All four venues used in this tournament will be used again next year when the world’s attention turns to Russia for the global game’s ultimate tournament.
The Confederations Cup is an event which brings together the host nation, the defending World Cup champions, and the winners of each of FIFA’s continental championships (Africa, Asia, Europe, Oceania, South America, and CONCACAF).
The tournament has been organized by FIFA since 1997—and since 2005 has been held every four years in the nation slated to host the next World Cup. This tradition will be broken in 2021, as FIFA plans to hold the tournament outside of Qatar due to concerns over summer heat.
The four stadiums used for this year’s tournament are spread out across Russia.
The newest and largest is St. Petersburg Stadium, or Zenit Arena. Designed by Japanese architect Kisho Kurokawa, the arena holds 68,000, and boasts a retractable roof and sliding pitch. Built on Krestovsky Island on the Gulf of Finland, former home of the 110,000 capacity Kirov Stadium, it has an ultra-modern appearance built to resemble a spaceship. Due to be completed in 2009 but finished this year, the original budget was $270 million, but that figure has since reached $1.7 billion.
One very interesting stadium in use for the Confederations Cup is the Fisht Stadium in Sochi. Originally built for the 2014 Olympics, designed by American firm Populous, it was site of the opening and closing ceremonies that year. It was originally enclosed, but has been converted to a 41,000-seat open-air soccer stadium. Named after nearby Mount Fisht, it resembles a snow-capped mountain peak. After 2018, it will be only the second stadium to host both a Winter Olympics and World Cup games—the other being Turin’s Stadio Olimpico.
Another relatively new stadium in use is Kazan Stadium, home to club team Rubin Kazan since 2013. The 45,000-seat venue is notable for having the largest outdoor screen of any European stadium, running across an entire exterior wall. Also designed by American firm Populous, it blends with the urban architecture of Kazan, and resembles a water-lily, appropriate for the nearby Kazanka River.
The final stadium on view is Moscow’s Spartak Stadium. Opened in 2014, the 43,000 seater has a unique exterior – a chainmail-style diamond pattern which reflects Spartak Moscow’s logo with lighting capability to change colors depending on the home team.
Each of the four stadiums hosted group stage games this summer, with the semi-finals being held in Sochi and Kazan, the third-place game at Spartak Stadium, and the 2017 Confederations Cup final at St. Petersburg Stadium.
In 2018 for the World Cup, there will be 12 stadiums used, with each hosting at least four group stage games. New stadiums are being constructed specifically for the World Cup in Samara, Saransk, Rostov, Volgograd, Nizhny Novgorod and Kaliningrad. Though it is not new, the stadium in Yekaterinburg is being refurbished for the event.
The centerpiece stadium of the 2018 World Cup, the Luznhiki Stadium in Moscow, was not used in this year’s Confederations Cup, because its refurbishment was just completed in the last month. The stadium has been massively overhauled at a cost of over $450 million dollars. The original facade and roof were kept in place, but a second tier of seating was added, and additional roofing and lighting in the roof structure was installed, creating a massive video-capable roof.
The original Luznhiki Stadium hosted the 1980 Summer Olympics, and was the site of the first ever all-English Champions League Final in 2008, when Manchester United beat Chelsea. On June 14, 2018, the 81,000-seat stadium will host the opening game of the 2018 World Cup. It will also host one of the semi-final games (the other will be at St. Petersburg) and the 2018 World Cup Final.
Though not all of the 2018 World Cup venues were on view this summer, chiefly because many of them are still under construction, the Confederations Cup is providing a glimpse into what fans can expect next summer. Spread out across the massive host nation, Russia has many state-of-the-art stadiums – completed and in progress – venues that should provide a worthy home for both the Confederations and World Cups.
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