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Playing for Europe

Published: Friday 10 August 2007, 8.09CET visits the Only A Game? exhibition running until 26 August in Brussels.
by Paul Saffer
from Brussels
Published: Friday 10 August 2007, 8.09CET

Playing for Europe visits the Only A Game? exhibition running until 26 August in Brussels.

If anything can be said to symbolise the borderless European dream set out in the Treaty of Rome 50 years ago, it is probably football. Which is why the sport has been selected as the subject of a high-tech exhibition in Brussels marking the golden jubilee of the formation of what is now the European Union (EU).

European vision
Only A Game? is running until 26 August at the Musées Royaux d'Art et d'Histoire in the Parc du Cinquantennaire, the Belgian capital's most prestigious exhibition venue. The event is part of the Brussels tourism theme for the year, Europe, and is backed by UEFA. The exhibition aims to tell the story of Europe through the lens of football and since launching in May, Only A Game? has attracted a large number of visitors, including UEFA President Michel Platini. Lilian Thuram is patron of the exhibition and told "Football makes this vision of Europe a reality."

Brussels backing
Evelyne Huytebroeck, minister for tourism in the Brussels regional government, explained why they chose the European theme for 2007, and are promoting this display. "This might seem astonishing but, for me, sport - and in this case football - is a key part of the Union and football can be compared with the evolution of Europe," she said.

Human design
The exhibition is the brainchild of designer Olivier Guilbaud, who came up with the concept as well as the innovative displays. These include giant table football figures representing the lives of eight European soccer stars, and an interactive sphere that responds to fingertip movements in the style of the film Minority Report, allowing visitors to race around the continent finding out about the 32 clubs in last season's UEFA Champions League. "It is an exhibition about European football and the aim is to speak about Europe in a human way," Guilbaud said. "It is open to everybody, especially families." He explains further about the local clubs profiled: "Football is a mirror of society and it is the case in Brussels. If you go to the different clubs you get a great view of Brussels."

Thuram enthused
Thuram, an enthusiastic backer of many social projects related to football, was a natural choice as patron and is delighted by the exhibition. "Football makes this vision of Europe a reality," the FIFA World Cup winner said. "We have the luck, thanks to football, to take part in situations where all European countries have a chance to win. I think this is beautiful. We also have the luck to play in European teams made up of many different identities."

Practical details
Entry price: €4
Groups: €3 per person - for reservations, call 0474 75 69 75
Location: Musées Royaux d'Art et d'Histoire (MRAH), Brussels
Opening hours: Tuesday-Friday 09.30-17.00
Saturday, Sunday, holidays 10.00-17.00
Free of charge: children 12 years and under (on family visits), the blind and partially sighted and their guide, journalists

Click here for exhibition website.

This is an abridged version of an article that first appeared in the Magazine. To read in full click here.

Last updated: 14/04/12 5.49CET