Mexico City and Guadalajara kicked off the UEFA Champions League Trophy Tour, presented by Heineken – and featuring Christian Karembeu and Edwin van der Sar.
The 2012 UEFA Champions League Trophy Tour, presented by Heineken, has got off to a flying start in Mexico City and Guadalajara – with former European champions Christian Karembeu and Edwin van der Sar on hand to make sure the event was a resounding success.
The tour began in spectacular fashion with a well-attended media conference – televised live by various stations – held at Piso 51 in the Torre Mayor, the 'highest' venue in the tallest building in Mexico City, offering fantastic views across the capital.
Moving on to Guadalajara, the trophy was unveiled again by Karembeu and Van der Sar at a second press conference, which preceded a trophy tour kick-off show at half-time in the top-flight match between Club Deportivo Guadalajara, or Chivas to use their popular name, and Cruz Azul AC.
Almost 40,000 spectators watched a ceremony inspired by a Mesoamerican ball game, complete with lights, music and fireworks and featuring more than 30 acrobats simulating a footballing battle for the trophy, which eventually ended up in the hands of Karembeu and Van der Sar, who duly officially opened the first intercontinental trophy tour.
As a special treat, UEFA Trophy Tour ambassador Karembeu and Heineken Trophy Tour ambassador Van der Sar also played football tennis with supporters after the end of the game in Guadalajara.
Fans had travelled from all over the region for the the UEFA Champions League Trophy Tour fan festival located just outside the stadium. Among the activities on offer, visitors were able to demonstrate their skills by juggling balls in a competition or playing on mini-football fields. There were also a PlayStation area and man-sized soccer tables.
The biggest attraction, however, was the UEFA Champions League trophy. Fans queued for hours to have their photo taken with European club football's most famous prize. The queue led them through an impressive exhibition including 4.5m high walls portraying the history of the UEFA Champions League and displaying valuable memorabilia used and worn by the stars who have graced the competition.
"It's an honour, first, and a privilege to be part of the UEFA ambassadors and of course Heineken's," said Karembeu. "And for sure the tour is a great initiative. Because of my experience as an ex-player, we know that many people look at the game, watching on TV, and bringing the cup to them is a great achievement. We from Europe are bringing the trophy to the people who deserve it."
"This is my first experience here with Heineken and with UEFA," added Van der Sar. "It's a great opportunity for fans and young people, older people, to come up close to one of the most important trophies there is in the football world."
A special session was also organised for disabled people to play a mini-tournament and enjoy a special photo session with the trophy. The tour continues its Mexican leg this weekend. It will be open for the public in Mexico City to come and take part in football activities, see the UEFA Champions League exhibition and have their picture taken with the silverware.
Venue: World Trade Centre, Mexico City
Saturday 17 March: 11.30–22.00 local time
Sunday 18 March: 11.30–18.00 local time
The tour then heads to Africa – stopping in Tanzania (24–27 March) and Kenya (28–31 March) – before eventually finishing in Shanghai, China (6–8 April).