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Walker praises stadium progress

Published: Wednesday 12 March 2003, 20.49CET
UEFA Stadium and Security Committee president Ernie Walker has started a three-day tour of Portugal.
Published: Wednesday 12 March 2003, 20.49CET

Walker praises stadium progress

UEFA Stadium and Security Committee president Ernie Walker has started a three-day tour of Portugal.
UEFA Stadium and Security Committee president, Ernie Walker praised the progression of work on three UEFA EURO 2004™ venues that he visited today with Tournament Director António Laranjo.

Three-day tour
The comments came on the first of a three-day tour that will see Walker visit all ten stadiums that will stage the UEFA European Football Championship finals. The visit begin in the morning at the Algarve stadium, which Walker considered "a role model project, in which everything is happening according to the original schedule, with all the financial resources to finish the stadium and without any budget overdrafts".

Lisbon stadiums
The afternoon saw visits to both Lisbon venues - the Luz and the Alvalade. Walker was informed that the last match at the SL Benfica's current Luz facility will be played on 22 March and that the final demolition process will begin on 1 April. "There is always a sad feeling when such a historic venue dies," he said.

'Great joy'
"But on the other hand, it is with a great joy that we are watching the building of an exciting new stadium, which will be appreciated by millions of football fans across the world. It is appropriate to say 'the king is dead. Long live the king'. People understand that this stadium is a very important tool for the UEFA EURO 2004™ tournament and its final."

Deserved praise
Sporting Clube de Portugal's new Alvalade stadium also earned praise from the UEFA Stadium and Security Committee president. "Two years ago, what we saw here was a very big hole, marred by enormous difficulties in digging the soil," he said.

Congratulations offered
"I said then that it is was time for Portuguese stadiums to match the footballing qualities of its gifted players, but now perhaps the opposite will be true - maybe it will be the players who will have to match to the quality of Portuguese venues! I would like to congratulate Sporting and the Portuguese Government by all the work that has been done so far."

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