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Brennan's Brief How UEFA are putting VIPs and corporate boxes ahead of the real football fans


The Estadio do Dragao is staging the final (Tim Goode/PA)

The Estadio do Dragao is staging the final (Tim Goode/PA)

The Estadio do Dragao is staging the final (Tim Goode/PA)

How quickly they forget. Two weeks ago, the world of football was in tumult, as the supporters of many top European clubs rose up in rebellion against the proposed European Super League.

UEFA, the governing body for football in Europe, stood shoulder to shoulder with the fans. “Football is for the Fans”, they said.

As of today, football is for the VIPs.

The venues for the Champions League and Europa League Finals are picked years in advance. Istanbul in Turkey was awarded last year’s hosting of the big one, the first time since Liverpool’s famous win over AC Milan in 2005 that the Champions League decider would return to the city.

It couldn’t happen last year, but they were given this year’s showpiece instead.

For the last three months, UEFA were planning to play the final in an empty stadium in the city ‘Where East Meets West’. That alone was surprising, since Dublin was not allowed host matches at this year’s Euros in an empty stadium.

But then two English teams, Manchester City and Chelsea, qualified for the final and we learned that Turkey was on the UK Government’s red list of countries because of Covid and the two teams, and their managers and support staffs, would have to quarantine for a fortnight on their return from Istanbul.

That wasn’t a runner, so Wembley Stadium, with 20,000 people able to attend the match, became the obvious hosting solution for the game on Saturday May 29.

But then UEFA ran into a VIP roadblock. You see there are many other European countries on the UK Government’s red list, because of their high rates of Covid. And some of these countries are ones from which many of UEFA’s sponsors, marketing partners, and financial backers hail. They would not have been allowed into Britain to attend the match.

Now why people, who are clever enough to be leaders of multi-billion Euro businesses, would want to criss-cross Europe to attend a football match in which no club from their country is participating, during a world pandemic, is one question.

But UEFA want to facilitate them. So two English clubs, and some supporters, now face travelling to Porto for the game, since Portugal’s red list is not as extensive as the British one.

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It is pure madness and if English football fans thought they had gained ground with their win over the ESL, UEFA are in the process of putting them back in their box this weekend. Or rather UEFA are putting their VIPs in a Corporate Box.

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