Football: Confederations Cup 101 - 5 things you need to know

Security guards walking past a banner of the 2017 Fifa Confederations Cup football tournament outside the Otrkytie Arena in Moscow on June 13, 2017.
Security guards walking past a banner of the 2017 Fifa Confederations Cup football tournament outside the Otrkytie Arena in Moscow on June 13, 2017.PHOTO: AFP

Sochi, Russia (AFP) - With the Confederations Cup starting on Saturday when hosts Russia take on New Zealand in St Petersburg, here are five things to know about the June 17-July 2 tournament:

1. What is the Confederations Cup?

It's an international eight-team tournament, played every four years. Since 2001, it has been used as a tune-up for the following year's World Cup Finals.

The 2017 edition is being held over a fortnight with two groups containing the six winners of the Fifa confederations tournaments joined by world champions Germany and hosts Russia.

2. Who's playing?

World champions Germany face Copa America title-holders Chile, 2015 Asian Cup champions Australia and Africa Cup of Nations winners Cameroon in Group B.

Euro 2016 winners Portugal, hosts Russia, Mexico, the 2015 CONCACAF Gold Cup winners, and New Zealand, the 2016 Oceania champions, are in Group A.

After the group stages, the top-two teams in each pool advance to the semi-finals - in Kazan on June 28 and Sochi on June 29.

There is then a third-placed play-off in Moscow ahead of the July 2 final in St Petersburg.

3. Which Russian cities are hosting?

A steward walking past a Russia Confederation Cup 2017 logo at Krestovsky Stadium in Saint Petersburg on June, 15, 2017. PHOTO: AFP

The 16 matches are being shared by the capital Moscow, St Petersburg, Sochi and Kazan.

The final will be held at the Krestovsky Stadium, the new home of Zenit St Petersburg, which has a capacity of just under 70,000.

Spartak Moscow's Otkrytiye Arena will host the third-placed play-off and holds 45,000.

The semi-finals will be held at the Kazan Arena, where Rubin Kazan play their home games, and the Fischt Olympic Stadium, which hosted the opening ceremony of the Sochi 2014 Winter Olympic and Paralympic Games.

Originally built as an enclosed facility, it has undergone a conversion to host Confederations Cup and World Cup matches.

4. Why aren't Brazil playing?

The Selecao were winners of the Confederations Cup in 2005, 2009 and 2013, when they hosted the tournament, but this is the first time Brazil have failed to qualify since the field was expanded to eight teams in 1997.

They only finished fourth at the 2014 World Cup, after their historic 7-1 drubbing by Germany in the semi-finals and lost to the Netherlands in the third-placed play-off.

As the winners of last year's Copa America in the US, Chile will be representing South America at the Confederations Cup.

5. Is it easy to get tickets?

People picking up their credentials at the accreditation centre of the Otrkytie Arena in Moscow, ahead of the 2017 Fifa Confederations Cup football tournament, on June 13, 2017. PHOTO: AFP

Tickets are still available but, as requested by the Russian authorities, all fans must have a personalised fan identity card to watch Confederations Cup games for which they have purchased tickets.

Once match tickets are bought online, through the Fifa website, which requires log-in details, fans then must register on the website and will receive an official badge to wear to games in the post.

The identity card can be used for free local travel to games in the host city but must be clearly displayed during the match.