SOCHI, Russia (AP) Perhaps keeping the ball on the ground should be the order from air traffic control rather than coaches in this southern Russian coastal resort.
A FIFA-assigned training ground, used so far by Australia and Cameroon at the Confederations Cup, is directly on the flight path into Sochi’s airport.
After passing over the Black Sea, the final kilometer of the descent sees planes roar directly over the pitch before touching down on the runway.
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The airplanes can appear deceptively close for players training for the 2018 World Cup warm-up tournament. According to the flight tracking app Plane Finder, aircraft are less than 70 meters off the ground as they drop over the pitch.
Passengers in window seats are given a brief glimpse of training sessions mostly closed off from the media and fans. And the planes are certainly low enough for the roar of jet engines to drown out instructions from coaches.
Tournament organizers are sure there are no safety concerns for the planes posed by planes zooming into land in such close proximity to players kicking balls around.
”No special orders about use of the ball have been given,” FIFA told The Associated Press, ”and so far the feedback from the teams has been positive. The training ground fulfills all technical and security requirements.”
It’s not the only training ground in Sochi that provides spectacular images. The facility used by Germany on the other side of the Adler district is next to a theme park, and screams from the roller coaster can be heard as players go through their training drills.