World Soccer views and news
Second eastern European Cup final could be the last for a while
I guess most if not all fans of Manchester United and Chelsea wish the Champions League final was being played a little closer to home.
The decision to waive visa restrictions should have helped a bit but with flight and hotel prices rocketing an awful lot of fans who would have made the trip to Paris, say, are presumably going to stay at home.
Darren Ennis blogged here recently about the wisdom of awarding the final so far in advance, suggesting that the venue could be taken from a shortlist of candidates once we’ve reached the quarters or the semis, ensuring greater convenience for fans.
If UEFA decides to go that route, it could mean that this year’s final will be the second and last to be held in eastern Europe — at least for a long while to come — with English, Italian and Spanish clubs likely to dominate the latter stages for years to come.
The only other time UEFA has ventured out to eastern Europe for their showpiece final was in 1973 in Belgrade when a famous Ajax Amsterdam outfit led by Johan Cruyff clinched their third successive European crown with a 1-0 win over Juventus, whose number eight was a certain Fabio Capello.
Serbian websites describe the match, played in front of 93,500 fans crammed into Red Star’s stadium, as one of the most memorable sports events held in communist-era Yugoslavia.
The country was outside the iron curtain and those Ajax and Juve faithful who may have made the trip should have found it relatively easy to reach eastern Europe’s window to the west of the 1970s.
Now it’s off to Moscow, which may not be the easiest place to get to for English fans, but at least is original.
Or would you rather have had it at Wembley?
Zoran Milosavljevic, Belgrade
PHOTO: A leaf blower in use on the pitch at Moscow’s Luzhniki stadium, May 2, 2008. REUTERS/Alexander Natruskin