''People understand me here, I will certainly return to Kazan'': Ronaldinho opens third Confederations Cup Park
The arrival of world champion and owner of the Confederations Cup Brazilian-born Ronaldinho seems to have shadowed many times all other gimmicks prepared by organisers for Kazan football fans during the opening of the two-day Confederations Cup Park. Realnoe Vremya's correspondent visited the event and found out why Kazan is a football city, whom Ronaldinho considers as favourite of the upcoming tournament and why the organisation level one month to the kick-off of the Confederations Cup leaves much to be desired.
Kazan lives in clover in a good sense of the word
The opening of the third Confederations Cup Park, in fact, which appeared in Kazan after Moscow and Sochi, was supposed to become the brightest event compared to all host cities of the upcoming prestigious tournament. For instance, Marcel Desaill and Harry Kewell came to the capital of the country and Sochi to open analogous parks respectively. Let's admit that even considering all the merits of these, undoubtedly, great football players of the 2000s, great Ronnie who created a football festival and became the best player on the planet in 2003 and 2004 years is a figure of another calibre.
However, to get the icing on the cake for Kazan in this Confederations Cup is not news. For example, the capital of Tatarstan again got the brightest scheduled matches. It's enough to mention the battle of the world champions, the national team of Germany and the owners of Copa America Chilean stars! The European champion – Portugal – and CONCACAF winners – Mexico who also became a discovery of the last Mundial – will also meet at Kazan Arena.
In general, the visit of Ronaldinho in addition to this generous football table seemed quite logical. By the way, his former club mate at PSG, 1996 Olympic champion Jay-Jay Okocha is also an iconic figure. Although probably in comparison with the most skilled Brazilian player in history (may Neymar's fans forgive me, but nothing is comparable with Ronnie's feints), he was in the shadow, of course.
Kazan loves football
It became known on 13 May that Kazan has as many football fans as that of hockey. More and more young guys and girls gradually gathered under the Kremlin walls in the park. While Ronnie's fans who were cold a bit waiting for his arrival and commentator Nobel Arustamyan tried to warm up the audience, I managed to see men in Avangard and Metallurg hockey hoodies. And young men in Milano and Manchester United T-shirts, a group of Ecuadorian fans even brought the national flag of their country. But, of course, fans with all kinds of stuff of Barcelona and the national team of Brazil accounted for the majority. When legendary Roni appeared on the stage, the park seemed to be hosting at least 7,000 people willing to see him live. As soon as the Brazilian addressed the audience, all people demonstrated the famous hand gesture that Ronaldinho used to celebrate his phenomenal goals during all his career as one (extended thumb and smallest finger). Here it became clear that Kazan really adores football, people watch and respect beautiful world football. Only Kazan Arena is still empty during Rubin's matches. Our theory we wrote about earlier is proof: Kazan loves football but doesn't like modern-day Rubin very much.
''Thanks for the invitation to come to Kazan. It is a very beautiful city. I am glad to be here,'' Ronnie told citizens of Kazan. ''I think Brazil will be a strong team in the World Championship. Participation in the Confederations Cup means incredible emotions. I had a chance to win this tournament in 2005. I invite all the fans to this Cup and, of course, to the World Championship,'' Ronaldinho said after the opening ceremony.
''Of course, Confederations Cup is one of the most important events in football,'' Nigerian-born Okocha took the floor. ''Kazan is very lucky: many cities dream of hosting such a tournament. As for the Cameroonian team, it has high winning chances in the Confederations Cup.''
Answering a question about the chances of the Russian squad, Ronaldinho remained diplomatic and decided not to praise anyone. Moreover, the Russian national team won't have to play in this competition.
''All the teams have chances to win. I hope the national team of Russia will show itself properly. It has chances to successfully play in this competition,'' Ronaldinho noted. ''Kazan is a very beautiful city with a huge history and beautiful women,'' he concluded to the approving rumble of spectators.
Ilsur Metshin: ''We believe that Kazan will be ready to host summer Olympics and any event in the near future because we know how to do it because we have the most amazing citizens.''
''It is a big honour and big responsibility for us,'' Mayor of Kazan Ilsur Metshin took the floor. ''The biggest football festival – Confederations Cup and World Cup – are coming to Kazan. We headed by the regional president and government are carrying out organisation works. The infrastructure, first of all, sports venues, hotels and the airport are prepared. Wonderful and kind faces of citizens of Kazan who are the most hospitable, smiling and best people are the most important thing we would like to present. We would like to be remembered for these smiling faces among all the cities.''
Will Summer Olympics take place in Kazan? What is done for it?
Any events of this level like the 2013 Universiade, 2015 FINA World Championships, Confederations Cup and World Cup lead Kazan to a completely different level concerning the skill of hosting such events, the infrastructure. This is why we believe that Kazan will be ready to host summer Olympics and any event in the near future because we know how to do it because we have the most amazing citizens.''
Organisation level concerns
An event is an event, but even not the biggest and most complicated event in terms of organisation as the opening of the two-day Confederations Cup Park left many questions about the organisation.
An absolutely weak work with journalists when they were accredited to the event first but then left to observe what was going on in the crowd of fans seemed to be only the beginning when the crowd broke the fence and rushed to the stage when the famous guest was already leaving it. Due to such turmoil, the ''enraged'' security staff did not allow media representatives to enter the zone for a long time where the opening ceremony participants were going to answer questions of the media.
The programme of the event had an ''exclusive interview with Ronaldinho and Okocha'', in fact, local journalists were not allowed to ask questions, many people wanted to enter this mixed zone. It was impossible to approach the tent behind the fence where the stars were having a rest with either accreditation or without it. So the meaning of this badge simply devaluated to an unnecessary pendant as memento. However, I managed to get through even if with impudence and stubbornness. But the trace of a complete disorder where media representatives did not have normal conditions for work was perceptible.
A question arises: what will happen in the very Confederations Cup and, most importantly, World Cup where the mass of people is bigger, there will be many journalists including world media while the 2018 organising committee still ''rehearsing'' and successfully fails these rehearsals? By the way, that crowd of fans was stubbornly and patiently waiting near the entrances to the stars' tents and remained waiting with extended T-shirts for autographs for two hours.
As for the question whether Kazan is a football city
''I am often asked whether I will continue my career, but I am already too old. I have many good offers. But I would rather focus on my role as ambassador. I liked Kazan very much. I will maybe stage a charity match one day,'' the decorated football player promised the journalists before going to the hotel.