Wednesday 16 November 2016, 12:28

Semak and Isinbaeva relishing FIFA Confederations Cup draw role

Five-time Russian Premier League winner Sergei Semak and two-time Olympic gold medallist Yelena Isinbaeva will be on hand to help with the Official Draw for the FIFA Confederations Cup on 26 November 2016 in Kazan. The two Russian sporting icons will support FIFA’s Deputy Secretary General for Football, Zvonimir Boban, and Chief Officer for Competitions and Events, Colin Smith, who will conduct the proceedings that will define the road to the coveted title of the “Tournament of Champions”, taking place from 17 June to 2 July 2017 in Russia.

“As a former player, I am familiar with the excitement of a draw building up the anticipation for the tournament. It is the moment when the preparations become concrete for the coaches and the players as they know who they will face in their quest for the title. At the same time the fans can get ready to book their tickets,” said Zvonimir Boban, the former Croatia and AC Milan midfielder. “It is a great honour to have two of Russia’s greatest athletes supporting Colin and me during the draw proceedings.”

Semak captained Russia at the country’s most successful tournament in modern times, UEFA EURO 2008, where they reached the semi-finals. The former Paris St. Germain midfielder knows all four FIFA Confederations Cup Host Cities very well, from spending holidays by the Black Sea in Sochi or his playing career at CSKA Moscow, Rubin Kazan and Zenit Saint Petersburg, where he is currently assistant coach.

“Moscow has developed infrastructure and many opportunities to host top-level sports competitions, Kazan is one of Russia’s sporting capitals and Saint Petersburg is the cultural and historical centre of the country – plus the city’s love for football is like a religion. As for Sochi, it is situated in a unique geographical position. Warm sea waters and snow-topped mountains are within a stone’s throw of each other,” he explained.

Yelena Isinbaeva is famous the world over for winning Olympic gold in the pole vault on two occasions, and the world championships three times. Isinbaeva was named 2018 FIFA World Cup Host City Ambassador for her native Volgograd. She has already made an appearance in this role at the Russia 2018 Preliminary Draw in Saint Petersburg last July.

“I have dedicated my whole life to sport,” said Isinbaeva, who recently brought her illustrious career to a close. “It makes me happy that our country sets great store by developing sport and organises major tournaments every year. The Confederations Cup will undoubtedly be one of the main sporting events of next year. Some of the leading footballing nations are coming here from all around the world and this means the fans are guaranteed a massive sporting festival and excellent football.”

In their role as assistants, Semak and Isinbaeva will help define the final match schedule for the “Tournament of Champions”. Russia are competing as hosts, Germany as the winners of the 2014 FIFA World Cup in Brazil, Australia as the holders of the AFC Asian Cup, Chile as Copa América winners, Mexico as the CONCACAF Gold Cup holders, New Zealand as holders of the OFC Nations Cup and Portugal the UEFA EURO champions. The winners of the upcoming Africa Cup of Nations will be added to this list after the tournament concludes on 5 February 2017.

Also appearing at the Official Draw will be Júlio Baptista, who won the FIFA Confederations Cup on two occasions with Brazil and has been asked to bring the trophy out onto the stage. Yana Churikova and Andrey Malakhov will be the presenters of the ceremony.