FIFA’s biggest Pre-World Cup Tournament starts Saturday June 17 in Saint Petersburg, 8 AM Pacific., when the hosts Russia kickoff against Oceania darlings, New Zealand. The Confederations Cup is an eight-team tournament that features a team per federation, the hosts, and the reigning World Cup winners.
What are the groups
Group A: Russia, New Zealand, Portugal, and Mexico
Group B: Cameroon, Chile, Australia, Germany
The top two sides from each group advance to the semi-finals. Portugal, Chile, and Russia all make their debuts in the tournament, while Mexico owns the most appearances of sides in the tournament with 2017 marking their seventh.
Where to watch
All the games are shown in the US on Fox Sports 1 or 2 and Telemundo.
Fox Sports will have Ian Wright leading a group of commentators and analysts that includes Lothar Matthaus, Guus Hiddink, Alexi Lalas, Arne Friedrich, Aly Wagner, Mariano Trujillo, Fernando Fiore and Rob Stone. The broadcast team brings talent and experience from all facets of the game.
Ties to MLS
CONCACAF sent a referee contingent that you’ll recognize as Mark Geiger leads a group that also has Jair Marrufo as the video assistant.
New Zealand’s roster features defenders from Whitecaps 2 and the San Jose Earthquakes. Also in Group A, Gio Dos Santos will be a leader in Mexico’s attack.
In Group B, Cameroon features Montreal’s starting left back, Ambroise Oyongo. He’ll face off in the group against former Red Bull teammate, Tim Cahill, who is the captain of Australia.
What’s at stake
Money, anywhere from two million (USD), if you finish in the group stage and up to five million if you win the tournament.
What’s new this year
Video Assistant Refereeing, Jair Marrufo is CONCACAF’s representative but the big story is that this is the largest tournament to use the new technology. On the global stage it’ll be a major test for FIFA on how using replay will impact the pace of play. There is only one chance for a first impression and Marrufo will be key in how it shows up.
Replays will only be used for goals, penalty decisions, direct red cards and mistaken identity. Goal-line technology will also be available for referees in their quest to get calls right.
Games this Weekend
Opening Ceremony, Saturday June 17, 6 AM. Telemundo
Saturday June 17, 8 AM, Russia vs New Zealand. FS1, Telemundo, Telemundo Stream
Sunday June 18, 8 AM, Portugal vs Mexico. FS1, Telemundo, Telemundo Stream
Sunday June 18, 11 AM, Cameroon vs Chile. FS2, Telemundo, Telemundo Stream
Monday June 19, 8 AM, Australia vs Germany. FS1, Telemundo, Telemundo Stream