The Confederations Cup kicked off with host nation Russia opening the World Cup rehearsal tournament against New Zealand.
The Confederations Cup will be held from June 17th to July 2nd in the Russian cities of Kazan, Sochi, St. Petersburg and Moscow.
Security checks were tight around the stadium with many fans delayed getting in for a 20-minute opening ceremony of music and dance that began almost two hours earlier than scheduled.
The organizing committee also confirmed that Russian low-income citizens, including families with many children, orphans and disabled people, will be able to visit the Confederations Cup matches for free.
The 8-nation tournament features the host nation, 2014 World Cup winner Germany and champions of FIFA’s six continental governing bodies.
So after the ceremony, Hosts Russia got off to a winning start, Fedor Smolov’s second-half goal sealing a 2-0 win over New Zealand in Saint Petersburg in the tournament opener.
Russia went ahead in the first half of the Group A encounter through what was credited as an own goal from New Zealand defender Michael Boxall, and Smolov wrapped up the victory in the 69th minute.
New Zealand are now without a win in 10 Confederations Cup matches and next play Mexico on Wednesday in Sochi.