The key venue of the 17th FINA World Championships have debuted internationally by hosting one of the highest attended LEN Champions League Final Six of all times. The event itself as well as the impressive facility achieved great success among the audience, national and international guests, fans and athletes alike.
„This swimming stadium is awesome together with the whole environment and the atmosphere. We get to see top water polo players of the world, perhaps it is the best Champions League Final of all times. I am impressed” – said Elvis Fatovic, head coach of the Australian team on Friday, who was concerned for several reasons.
For one thing plenty of players attending the World Championships in summer were competing in the pool this time as well and this way he could observe them playing, and for another thing, his son, Loren plays in the title defender finalist team, Jug Dubrovnik.
„I have not really seen any swimming pools like this in Europe before, the circumstances are brilliant. Water polo is a sport in which Hungarians take great pride, they love this discipline and other aquatic sports, as well. Having the opportunity to cheer in such facilities is enviable, I am sure a lot of spectators will attend without special invitation, as well” –Sava Randelovic, Olympic and world champion Serbian player of AN Brescia said about the Danube Arena.
Marco Del Lungo (AN Brescia), goalkeeper of the Italian team shared his opinion: „It is a privilege to play in this arena, but it would be a great honour to do so in Hajós Alfréd Swimming Stadium, as well, and I hope I will have the opportunity to do so.”
„This was my very first water polo match and it was a remarkable experience for me” – summarised briefly an enthusiastic fan walking from the Danube Arena towards Árpád Bridge at the end of the first day of the Final Six. Just like in the case of the Final Six, organisers have determined ticket prices for the 17th FINA World Championships with the intention to ensure that attendance is affordable for any sport enthusiasts (no wonder that there is great interest in purchasing tickets for the World Champs, too).
Nearly 20 thousand fans watched the 3-day event on the site. In addition, key representatives of this sport were present, as well, in addition to Elvis Fatovic, Dejan Savic Serbian, Ivica Tucak Croatian, Alessandro Campagna Italian, Ratko Rudic Brazilian, Jesus Martin Spanish and Tamás Märcz Hungarian head coach attended the event. They will all have to return to Budapest for the 17th FINA World Championships this summer. (Similarly to Theodoris Vlachos, who is the coach of Final Six participant, Olympiacos and the Greek national team as well.)
Regarding the results: the first day saw the victory of Hungarian championships silver medallist ZF-Eger against AN Brescia (6-4), while the winner of last year, Jug Dubrovnik defeated Greek Olympiacos decisively (11-8) in a battle similar to that of the final in 2016.
Quite surprisingly the Italian Pro Recco was defeated by Dubrovnik (10-9) in the semi-finals, while in the battle by the Hungarian teams Szolnok Dózsa-Közgép beat Eger (7-5) in a great combat – in the match for the 5th place Brescia won against Olympiacos 8-5.
In the bronze match on Saturday Pro Recco was beyond doubt far stronger than Eger (15-6), in the final Szolnok excelled Jug Dubrovnik in front of 10 000 fans marking the greatest success in the history of Szolnok.
„I was all smiles at the end because it was a great fight and it was an awesome game for all of us. The organising, the pool and Hungarians’ love for sport is fascinating and it will sure be the same at the World Champs in summer. I congratulate everyone who was involved in the organising” – said the Brazilian, Felipe Perrone, adding that he has to miss the World Champs for personal reasons.
„Our defence was the best, this was the key to winning the Champions League. The arena was fascinating, together with the fans and the conduct of the event. I myself will return in summer, our goal with the French team will be to make it to the top 8 and we are going to work hard for it in the upcoming period” – said Ugo Crousillat, the French player of the winning team, Szolnok.
The Danube Arena has therefore made its debut and it was more than promising, regarding the World Championships of summer.