Second eastern European Cup final could be the last for a while

May 16, 2008

leaf blowing

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

5 comments

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this is one Idea that will not really work …why do fans why to fly to as far as Korea and Japan for the world cup

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The English game is becoming too insular – ie: full of it’s self. It’s good for it’s teams and it’s players to go further afield and experience a unique part of the world. And it’s a good way for Moscow and Russian football to be promoted. The English should look at the positive side. And if the match is a classic (I think it’ll be a war btw) then you’re right Zoran – it will have the same romance that the final Belgrade now holds.

Personally, I think UEFA should not go down that route as limiting the European Cup final to just a few western European capitals would deprive the rest of the continent and that would be unfair. I don’t think anyone would have made an issue of this or said ‘Why Moscow’ if Barcelona and Inter were the finalists. Football should not be played purely for the benefit of Europe’s most advanced countries; the gulf is big enough already and depriving eastern Europe of at least an occasional chance to watch top-level football would not exactly amount to promoting the beautiful game across the continent. Which is what UEFA has pledged to do.

Posted by Red Devil | Report as abusive

I just wish there was an Italian team there, would be good to see Maldini one more time in the Champions League final. I came across a great piece on his retirement.
http://gentrystyle.com/2008/05/18/ciao-b ello-saying-farewell-to-paolo-maldini/#m ore-377

Maldini in another Cl final? Maybe as coach at some point in the future. I think he would make a great manager, he’s got that kind of vision.