2021 UEFA showcase FC Porto acid test



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Ricardo Carvalho at Coliseum EUROPE 2023 Image: Coliseum GSVA

Ricardo Carvalho has well learnt the art of handling showcase soccer events at the nth moment. And he knows how to pull off a successful event amidst huge challenges.

Carvalho who is the Sport Facilities and Asset Manager at FC Porto, Portugal, knows how to pick up the gauntlet which he and his team did when the European soccer’s governing body UEFA shifted the all-English Champions League final between the Premier League teams Manchester City F.C. and Chelsea F.C. in May 2021 from Turkey to Portugal as Istanbul had re-entered a virus-related lockdown. As talks to move the soccer show to London (UK) failed, it was shifted to Portugal for the second year in a row. Carvalho and his team were faced with a huge challenge to pull off with success a soccer showcase at the nick of time.

A mechanical engineer by qualification and also armed with an MBA degree from the University of Porto, Ricardo Carvalho has been with FC Porto since 2002.

Ricardo Carvalho, Sports Facilities and Asset Manager, FC Porto, Portugal, tells ‘Coliseum’ that it was “quite a job” to organize the 2021 UEFA Champions League final at the 50,033-capacity Estádio do Dragão – home of FC Porto – in Porto, Portugal, in just 18 days time!
 

FC Porto

FC Porto or simply Porto is a Portuguese professional sports club based in Porto, Portugal. It is best known for the professional football team playing in the Primeira Liga, the top flight of Portuguese football.
 

Estádio do Dragão

The Estádio do Dragão is an all-seater football stadium in Porto, Portugal, and the home ground of FC Porto since 2003. It has a seating capacity of 50,033, making it the third largest football stadium in Portugal.
 

UEFA

Nyon (Switzerland)-based the Union of European Football Associations (UEFA) is one of six continental bodies of governance in association football. It governs football, futsal and beach football in Europe and the transcontinental countries of Turkey, Azerbaijan, Georgia, Russia, and Kazakhstan, as well as some Asian countries such as Israel, Cyprus and Armenia. The UEFA consists of 55 national association members. Because of the 2022 Russian invasion of Ukraine, the FIFA and UEFA suspended all Russian national teams and clubs from any FIFA and UEFA competitions.
 

2021 UEFA Champions League Final

The 2021 Union of European Football Associations (UEFA) Champions League final was the final match of the 2020-2021 UEFA Champions League, the 66th season of Europe’s premier club football tournament organized by the UEFA, and the 29th season since it was renamed from the European Cup to the UEFA Champions League. It was held at the 50,033-capacity Estádio do Dragão – home of FC Porto – in Porto, Portugal. The final was played between the Premier League clubs Manchester City F.C. and Chelsea F.C which the latter won 1-0.

Commented Carvalho, “COVID had turned everything topsy-turvy and we were suddenly told in May 2021 that we have to host the UEFA showcase at the Estádio do Dragão and we just had 18 days in our hands! You can well imagine the messy kind of situation we were in because hosting a UEFA show takes months to years of preparations and here we were handed down less than 20 days to organize the same! We were at our wits’ end.”
 

Challenges Galore

Carvalho stated that it was full of challenges and they did not have a “moment to spare and our whole team decided that come what may we will deliver this big-ticket event with success”.

Carvalho and his team started work on a war footing. They were not the ones to sit back and twiddle their thumbs and believed in action however tough the task may be – “From logistics to getting the venue ready to managing the City, the airport and streamlining the transportation network was no mean task. Limited number of fans was allowed to attend the match and strict COVID protocols were in place. The biggest challenge was to organize the match amidst the pandemic situation. It was anything but a hunky-dory situation.”

Carvalho and his team knew that there was no magic bullet and “our objective was to ensure that the UEFA soccer extraordinaire was a smooth affair. We got down to work and did not procrastinate matters. We decided to bring to the game the true meaning of legacy”.

To this end, Carvalho and his team worked in lightning speed and the Portuguese authorities also responded swiftly. The end result was that Ricardo Carvalho and his team managed to pull off a successful UEFA Champions League final.

Like they say, ‘when the going gets tough, the tough gets going’.

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