Arguably the country’s most beautiful city, the city sprawls along 148 kilometers along the Black Sea coast and has been nicknamed the Russian Riviera. It was a major tourist and cultural destination even before it hosted the 2014 Winter Olympic Games. Its skyline features an eclectic mix of architecture, its flora and fauna attract adults and children alike. Add to it the warm sea that most Russians live far away from and you will understand why it is such a magnet.
With the experience of holding successful Olympics in 2014, Sochi was honoured with the next important mission – hosting the Confederations Cup and the World Cup games. Despite the high level of organizational skills, the city still had plenty to work on transforming its Olympic legacy into football future.
Fisht Stadium was the venue that underwent the deepest transformations.
the unique sports arena named after a mountain in the western part of the caucasus (fisht means the white head in the adygean language) features an original design and reminds visitors of the snow-capped mountains surrounding the city.
In 2014, Fisht Stadium hosted the opening and the closing ceremonies of the 22nd Winter Olympics. The arena was not designed as a football stadium initally and had to be modified. The roofing was dismantled, the pitch returfed, and the number of seats expanded. Today, its capacity is 45,000.
The first test for the redeveloped stadium was the friendly between Russia and Belgium in 2017. It was then the venue for the Russia Cup final between FC Lokomotiv and FC Ural. During the Confederations Cup, it hosted three matches.
During the upcoming World Cup, it will become the site for the clash between Group B favourites, Portugal and Spain. Three days later, Belgium will take on Panama. Germany will then play against Sweden, and the final game will see a showdown between Australia and Peru.
Apart from group stage matches, sochi will also host one round of 16 matches between group a winner (It could be russia) and Group b runner-up, as well as one of the quarterfinals.
Sochi’s rich legacy saved it a couple of billion roubles and the World Cup budget was a meagre 2.5 billion roubles, the lowest among 11 host cities. Apart from the stadium, the city also built three top-quality training sites. The YUG-SPORT complex and the Parus hotel have been selected as the team base camps.
Some of the funds were used to improve hospitality and transport junctions.
Many of the existing hotels and resorts were reconstructed and newly erected properties were ranked according to international standards. Local tourist and transport agencies say they are ready to welcome an increased flow of foreign guests.
THE FIFA FAN FEST area in sochi will be located in the Olympic park, allowing fans to get a taste of the 2014 olympic legacy.
A football party in the world’s northernmost city with the subtropical climate is sure to be a grand festival of joy and emotions.
Ekaterina Podkolzina, Rustam Sabirov