An international media delegation has been left highly impressed with the progress of venues for UEFA EURO 2004™ and declared that next year's tournament would be a success.
Twenty journalists from news agencies and newspapers all over Europe travelled around Portugal to assess the stadiums. Rob Hughes, from the Herald Tribune and The Times newspapers said: "It is a complete surprise to those who come to Portugal to learn that the stadiums are now so developed, especially after so much news about costs and delays".
The British journalist said Braga Municipal stadium was the venue that has impressed him the most, describing it as a "monument", which "will remain as a UEFA EURO 2004™ legacy after the end of the tournament".
Other enthusiastic feedback came from Massimo Franchi, an Italian reporter from the daily sports newspaper Tuttosport, who considered that the competition would be an unforgettable event. "At EURO 2000™, there was nothing spectacular, while here everything is new," he said, adding that the Portuguese would make excellent hosts while providing good tourism options.
Speaking about the stadiums, Franchi addd: "Braga seems a diamond carved in the rock, Luz stadium's shape seemed like Rome's Olympic stadium, Alvalade stands have the same San Siro emotion, Aveiro is a small Saint Denis [referring to the Stade de France on the outskirts of Paris] with some Gaudí elements in its outer lines."
United in praise
Barry Hatton, from the Associated Press news agency, and Jaap de Groot, from the Dutch daily De Telegraaf, highlighted the effort of the Portuguese State to raise ten stadiums while both mentioned Braga Municipal stadium as a "memorable" venue.
De Groot also raised another point, unmentioned until now, about the excellent acoustics afforded by the Luz and Alvalade stadiums. "It will be like a torture for all visiting sides," he said, before adding: "I am positive that Portugal's sporting results will show up again and that will be important for the return of the Portuguese clubs to the European limelight."
Finally, David Ruiz, from the Spanish sports paper Marca, stressed the "Portuguese capability to overcome every existing problem" and that the UEFA EURO 2004™ "will leave a heritage in every Portuguese city and not only in Lisbon and Porto".
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