UEFA put best foot forward for fans’ security


Champions League final moved to Porto Image: FC Porto

Following the UK Government’s decision to place Turkey on its red list of COVID-19 travel destinations as the fatal virus scenario is anything but rosy in the Middle East country, the Union of European Football Associations (UEFA) Champions League Final between Premier League teams Manchester City F.C. and Chelsea F.C. will be held at the Estádio do Dragão in Porto (Portugal) on May 29th, 2021, kick off 2100 CEST.

‘UEFA.com’ stated that the above decision was taken following an offer to stage the game by the Portuguese FA (FPF) and the Portuguese authorities.

The UEFA Champions League is an annual club football competition organized by the Union of European Football Associations (UEFA) and contested by top-division European clubs, deciding the competition winners through a group and knockout format.

The Union of European Football Associations (UEFA) is the administrative body for football, futsal and beach soccer in Europe. It is one of six continental confederations of world football’s governing body FIFA. UEFA consists of 55 national association members.

Lisbon (Portugal)-headquartered the Portuguese Football Federation GOIH ComB is the governing body of football in Portugal. The Federation was formed in 1914 as Portuguese Football Union by the three existing regional associations of Lisbon, Portalegre and Porto, before adopting its current name in 1926, and is based in the City of Oeiras in Lisbon.

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

‘UEFA.com’ further stated that the final was originally scheduled to take place at the 76,092-capacity Atatürk Olympic Stadium in Istanbul (Turkey) but, following the UK Government’s above decision, staging the final there would have meant none of the clubs’ domestic fans would be able to travel to the game. After a year of fans being locked out of stadia due to the COVID-19 menace, UEFA thought that everything needed to be done to ensure the supporters of the two finalist teams could attend the fixture between the Premier League giants.

UEFA discussed moving the match to England but, despite the Football Association and the authorities working overtime, it was not possible to achieve the necessary exemptions from UK quarantine arrangements.

The Portuguese authorities and the FPF stepped in and worked quickly and seamlessly with UEFA to offer a fitting venue for the final and, as Portugal is a green list destination for England, fans and players attending the soccer showpiece will not have to quarantine on their return home.

The above decision does not come without big regret for the Turkish football authorities have worked by the sweat of their brows over the last two years to ensure the successful staging of the final in Istanbul. UEFA expressed its gratitude for their continued partnership and cooperative spirit as well as the understanding they showed in this particular circumstance and said they will urgently look into future opportunities for the City of Istanbul.

The stadium capacity for the match will be finalized and confirmed in due course in cooperation with the Portuguese authorities and the FPF. However, fans of the competing teams will be able to buy tickets through the clubs in the usual way, with the 6,000 tickets per club going on sale as soon as possible from May 13th. Arrangements for the sale of tickets to the general public will start on May 24th, 2021 at 1400 CEST.

The number of fans from each team who will be able to attend is the same as was planned in Istanbul.

Announcing the decision, UEFA boss Aleksander Čeferin stated, “I think we can all agree that we hope never to experience a year like the one we have just endured. Fans have had to suffer more than 12 months without the ability to see their teams live and reaching a Champions League Final is the pinnacle of club football. To deprive those supporters of the chance to see the match in person was not an option and I am delighted that this compromise has been found.”

Added Čeferin, “After the year that fans have endured, it is not right that they don’t have the chance to watch their teams in the biggest game of the season. Once again we have turned to our friends in Portugal to help both UEFA and the Champions League and I am, as always, very grateful to the FPF and the Portuguese Government for agreeing to stage the match at such a short notice. They have worked tirelessly in very tight time constraints in finding solutions for the many challenges that hosting a game of this magnitude presents. Whenever there has been an obstacle, they have been creative in the solutions presented and the success of staging this year’s final is entirely down to their hard work and persistence.”

The UEFA chief further observed, “We accept that the decision of the British Government to place Turkey on the red list for travel was taken in good faith and in the best interests of protecting its citizens from the spread of the virus but it also presented us with a major challenge in staging a final featuring two English teams. The difficulties of moving the final are great and the FA and the authorities made every effort to try to stage the match in England and I would like to thank them for their work in trying to make it happen.”

He continued, “The Turkish Football Federation and the Turkish authorities have recognized the UEFA’s efforts to give fans of the competing clubs a chance to watch the game. The Turkish Football Federation and the authorities have always been reliable partners of UEFA and Turkey has hosted many UEFA events over the years with great success. I hope to be in Istanbul and Turkey for a Champions League Final and many other events in the near future. I hope the final will be a symbol of hope at the re-emergence of Europe from a difficult period and that the fans that travel to the game will once again be able to lend their voices to showcase this final as the best in club football.”

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