Monday 15 May 2017, 12:12

Ronaldinho and Okocha bring spirit of champions to Kazan

  • The FIFA Confederations Cup Park was in Kazan this weekend, with football legends Ronaldinho and Jay-Jay Okocha in attendance

  • Tickets to Confederations Cup matches (17 June -2 July) are available at and FIFA Venue Ticketing Centres

  • The FIFA Confederations Cup Park will next be in Saint Petersburg on 20-21 May with more surprises to be announced

It was Kazan’s turn to host the FIFA Confederations Cup Park this weekend. Just like in Moscow and Sochi over the last fortnight, the local fans were treated to an amazing experience as world football legends Ronaldinho and Jay-Jay Okocha came to visit. The former won the FIFA World Cup™ and the FIFA Confederations Cup for Brazil during a stellar career, while the latter won Olympic gold for Nigeria and remains one of the best players to come out of Africa. Both were also victorious in their respective continental championships.

Ronaldinho and Okocha were accompanied on their trip to the capital of the Republic of Tatarstan by 2018 FIFA World Cup Russia™ Ambassador Alexey Smertin and Host City Kazan Ambassador Elmira Kalimullina.

“Supporters from all over the world will visit Kazan and say how great Russia is,” said Smertin confidently. “I spoke with Okocha and he was delighted with the welcome he received. Jay-Jay visited the Kremlin and the stadium, whereas Ronaldinho was surrounded wherever he went.”

As well as meeting the two stars, visitors to the park saw the FIFA Confederations Cup Trophy that Ronaldinho brought onto the stage, took photos with the Official Mascot Zabivaka™ and tested themselves at various competitions and attractions.

Some of the competitions at the Confederations Cup Park even offered prizes of tickets to matches this summer. And for those who were not so lucky, there are still tickets available at and the in every Host City of the Tournament of Champions.

“I felt the hospitality and friendliness from the moment I stepped off the plane,” said Okocha. “I’m really impressed with what I saw in Kazan! I even thought for a moment about starting to play football again when I was at the Kazan Arena! I’d really like to perform at this stadium! Alas, my career is behind me, but I’ll be delighted if Nigeria get to play matches here at Russia 2018.

“The champions of each continent are playing at the Confederations Cup, so there’ll be a very high standard of football. There will be supporters from all over the world, but Russia will have the best support. It’s a shame that Nigeria didn’t qualify, so instead I’ll support Cameroon.

“Football has an important place in Russia,” Okocha added. “I often come across Russians and they’re all interested in football. Nigerian footballers who have played in Russia improved their ability here. And, of course, Russian cooking – your chefs are really great! I’m friends with Igor Yanovsky from when we played together at PSG and he suggested a few Russian dishes to me. I really love borsch!”

Naturally, all those who went to the park were particularly interested to hear from Ronaldinho.

“I really liked the city and the people are extremely nice here,” said the smiling Brazilian, one of the best players ever to kick a ball. “I will try to come here for the Confederations Cup. I’ll be cheering for beautiful football and new talent to burst onto the scene at the tournament.

“I have fond memories of the 2005 Confederations Cup in Germany,” Ronaldinho added, “because we didn’t just win, we hammered Argentina in the final and that’s always a special victory for Brazil! I’m sure there’ll be an excellent tournament in Russia. The people are friendly here; in terms of hospitality, Russians are similar to Brazilians.”

The second day in the Park was even more fun. Ronaldinho and Okocha fought each other in table foobtall, and Jay-Jay also paired former Russia national team defender and ex-captain of Rubin Kazan Roman Sharonov to score a hat-trick in a futsal game.

Volunteers played a crucial role in creating a party atmosphere at the park, as they continued to prepare for their upcoming roles at the Confederations Cup in Kazan.