‘Let’s enjoy beer & BBQ together!’ – Australian official predicts friendly atmosphere at Confed Cup

Australian embassy official Damien Bruckard believes a shared love of barbecues will help Australian and Russian fans bond during the 2017 FIFA Confederations Cup this summer.

Australia are one of eight teams taking part in the 2017 Confederations Cup – held from June 17 to July 2 in the four host cities of Moscow, St. Petersburg, Kazan and Sochi – and will be supported by their famously vibrant and vocal traveling fan group ‘The Green & Gold Army.’

One of the major international events in the football calendar, the quadrennial Confederations Cup is contested between the champions of their respective continent’s major tournament, and serves as a precursor to the World Cup.

To celebrate the upcoming tournament, the embassies of each nation participating in the 2017 tournament – Australia, Cameroon, Chile, Germany, Mexico, New Zealand, Portugal and Russia – will host the ‘Eight Flags Junior Cup’ on May 27.

The one-day tournament will be held at Novye Khimki Stadium in Khimki, Moscow Region, and will provide an opportunity for children to represent each participating nation in an organized celebration of this summer's football festival.

At a press conference to announce the event at the Mexican embassy in Moscow, Australian embassy Second Secretary Bruckard talked to RT Sport about the Australian fans’ and footballers’ passionate love of sport and why barbecues might see them bond with Russian fans.

RT: Damien, you’re here today at the press conference for the ‘Eight Flags Junior Cup’ – tell us a little bit about the tournament and Australia’s participation.

Damien Bruckard: The Eight Flags tournament is a wonderful little tournament between the eight countries that are participating in the Confederations Cup later on this year. Children from the embassies of all of these countries will be participating along with their Russian friends, so it’s an opportunity for children from different countries – like Australia – to come together in friendship and sport.

RT: How much interest is there among Australians in the 2017 Confederations Cup and in Russia in general?

DB: Certainly Australian soccer fans are interested in the Confederations Cup and one of the reasons for that is there is a little bit of uncertainty, unfortunately, about whether we will be participating in the (Russia 2018) World Cup. We certainly hope that we will but the Confederations Cup is a brilliant opportunity for the ‘Socceroos’ to get some really tough match practice in the lead up to that even bigger tournament.

RT: Despite having had players such as former Premier League star Tim Cahill in the past, Australia is most associated with cricket and rugby. What can we expect from the ‘Socceroos,’ the national football team, in terms of level of football and level of support?

DB: Well, when you think of Australia you don’t immediately think of football because Australia of course has its own football code – and also huge rugby players and cricket players. But you might be surprised to know that football is actually the number one sport for children to participate in in Australia. So there’s this great sort of skill development that is improving every year.

I think we’ve seen over the past couple of years that the quality of Australian football has really improved year on year – and you mentioned Tim Cahill who is an absolute superstar. So I think in the Confederations Cup we’ll really be able to expect to see some really high-quality football yet again from the Australian side.

RT: Australia’s famous ‘Green & Gold Army’ supporters group will be making the journey over to Russia. They’ve made a name for themselves as being some of the most colorful supporters around.

DB: I think we can expect sportsmanship, I think we can expect them to be passionate about the game, but at the same time we can expect them to be very respectful of Russian society, Russian culture, and some of the other fans here. They’re not as raucous as some other fans so I think we’ll be in for a good time.

RT: Australians are famed for their love of barbecues – do you think we will see any ‘Aussie Barbies’ in Russia during the Confederations Cup this summer?

DB: That’s right! I think Australians and Russians both share a love of barbecues or shashlik, so that’s certainly something that we’ve all got in common and I’m sure that we can enjoy some piva  and shashlik (grilled meat) together!

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