The 2011 UEFA Champions League Trophy Tour, presented by UniCredit, is up and running after a resoundingly successful first leg in St Petersburg, Russia.
An impressive total of 26,700 fans came to the trophy tour village this weekend in the city's palace square to savour the atmosphere surrounding European club football's most prestigious prize – the one the top players and clubs yearn to win. Many passionate fans waited several hours through rain and shine, and still had big smiles on their faces when their turn came to enter the free exhibition.
They were joined by UEFA Champions League Trophy Tour Ambassadors, the Brazilian great Cafu, who lifted the trophy in 2007 with AC Milan, and Dmitri Alenichev, who helped FC Porto to glory in 2004. Official UniCredit Ambassador for the UEFA Champions League, Portuguese ace Luís Figo – acquainted with the silverware with Real Madrid CF in 2002 – was also on hand to share the experience with supporters.
The UEFA Champions League has a truly global reach, with millions of fans throughout the world following the clubs and the action year after year. To foster a closer relationship with these dedicated supporters, the UEFA Champions League Trophy Tour was launched to bring a once-in-a-lifetime football experience to their own home towns.
As a result, fans who have often never had the chance to attend a UEFA Champions League game live get a unique opportunity to learn about the competition's rich history, magic moments, legendary clubs and players, and get to see and have their picture taken with one of the most celebrated icons in world sport – the UEFA Champions League trophy.
UEFA's objectives for the trophy tour also include encouraging people to play football and learn about the key UEFA values such as respect, the campaign against racism and grassroots/educational activities. For the tour, UEFA provides a comprehensive collection of football memorabilia from the European game's illustrious past, and a mini-football pitch is set up at each venue to enable the organisation of grassroots events and mini-tournaments.
Acclaimed players who have graced the UEFA Champions League stage and brandished the trophy are acting as Trophy Tour Ambassadors – meeting the fans and the media throughout the tour, and discussing their memories of the tournament.
"I think they really have to see the trophy, because it's a marvellous trophy," said Cafu, one of the pre-eminent right-backs in football history. "I believe that anyone who has had the chance to see it has to see it again; anyone who hasn't seen it yet, has the chance to see it, especially here. It's a unique moment, a historic moment."
"In 2004 I won this trophy with my team Porto, and now this cup which is familiar to me, is here," added Alenitchev – who scored in Porto's final victory against AS Monaco FC in Gelsenkirchen. "Of course it's given me a great deal of pleasure, and of course it's nice for me that this year Russia is presenting this wonderful trophy. I think this visit of the European Cup is also a great motivator for kids, for Russian kids, since it should encourage football, and in terms of Russian football as a whole it should help to increase the game's popularity."
Supporters in Moscow will be able to view the trophy when the Russian leg continues in the capital from Friday. The inaugural UEFA Champions League Trophy Tour in Europe attracted 92,000 visitors in 2009, while in 2010 a total of 138,500 fans came to see the silverware.
The remaining dates and venues for the 2011 tour are:
23–25 September: Moscow, Russia; media conference on 23 September
30 September–2 October: Kyiv, Ukraine; media conference on 30 September
7–9 October: Donetsk, Ukraine; media conference on 7 October
14–16 October: Belgrade, Serbia; media conference on 14 October
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