Living in Melbourne, the 38-year-old football fan Forest Street (Street Les) with difficulty held at the Sochi stadium “fischt” before the match, the Australian team with Germany. And it is not the lack of pointers or a long line for tickets. Street just happened to be too popular with local fans.
“I have not had time to go to the stadium, and I have twice interviewed by Russian TV station, said the puzzled Street. — And then I began to stop people to take pictures”.
There were concerns that the world Championships to be held next year in Russia and visiting fans will be given a hostile reception. Cause for alarm there, especially given the actions of organized groups of hooligans in France for Euro 2016.
But Street met at the Sochi stadium, it is very significant for confederations Cup 2017. Similar feelings formed many Australian fans. Russian may be cold outside, but they warmly welcomed fans from all over the world.
“Obviously, the fans were terribly disappointed by losing to Australia the German national team, — said the head of the fan club the green and gold Aaron Zoanetti (Aaron Zoanetti). — But the reception has surpassed all expectations. Each had their own ideas about how to be in Russia, but the reality was completely different.”
The local organizing Committee did a great job in preparing for the reception of the fans and media and everything went smoothly. Cumbersome process of obtaining visas simply cancelled. The one who got the “passport fan”, was able to come to the confederations Cup without a visa. The same will be done for the 2018 world Cup. At airports there were numerous new signs in English, and stadiums filled with friendly volunteers in red jackets, ready to help the guests.
“For us as a sports organization the fans to organize current ride was the easiest in many years, says Zoanetti, comparing Russia with Brazil and South Africa. Is a developed European country, people here are much more open than we thought, and although there is a language barrier, the local population is always ready to help.”
But many fans disappointed with the atmosphere during the match, Australia and Germany. Stadium “fischt”, containing 47659 people, was only half-filled, and the message is about 28 thousands who came to the match the fans were more inventive like the statistics of the Soviet times. In addition, the stadium itself is rather poor in the vast and nearly empty former Olympic village, 40 kilometers from Sochi. On other games fans were not much more. Even at the opening of the tournament in St. Petersburg, where he played Russia and New Zealand, the stadium was filled only 70%.
“In the ticketing system was not provided separate sections for Australian fans, says Street, who were among the 250 fans who came to Sochi. — They split, and togetherness of the fans does not arise. I was sitting alone, and the nearest Australian fan was 50 metres away from me.”
This rejection of the separation of the fans can cause serious problems next summer, when thousands of fans of the rival countries will go to the matches and will drive across the country. But in Sochi there were no problems, and there are local fans in 10 minutes launched a Mexican wave.
People will be more when the matches will start “drop out”, especially if Russia remains in the game. Local organizers are thinking about how to fill the stadiums children. This tactic will certainly provide a full podium next year at the world Cup, but local students are obviously not able to create the same atmosphere as travelling fans.
Australian fans in Saint-Petersburg before a match with Cameroon desperately hope that Australia will qualify and will get to Russia in 2018. In their qualifying group, it now occupies the third place with equal points with Saudi Arabia and one point behind Japan. In order to avoid difficult matches in the playoffs, Angelos Postecoglou will have to play out a draw against Japan and win at home Thailand in late August for the qualifying games.
“As a devoted Australian fan I always go to the world Championships, says Joshua Harkin (Joshua Harkin) from Sydney, which was rooting for their national team in Germany, South Africa, Brazil and Iran. — At the confederations Cup, I confirmed in his desire to return to Russia. The procedure is a bit tight — need to get a passport fan, monitor registration in hotels, but the location of the Cup and football will be made whole”.
However, there is the moral aspect. There are doubts about the integrity of Russia at the time of filing, there is talk about bad treatment of workers during the construction of the stadiums, and the political atmosphere in the country is quite dismal. Whether in these conditions the fans to go to the 2018 world Cup?
“I certainly have doubts about the bids and the process, but it seems to me that these questions — not for ordinary fans, says Harkin. — Ultimately, I just want to watch football.”