Italy is warming to the UEFA Champions League Trophy Tour, presented by UniCredit. Following a splendid kick-off in Milan, the prized silverware made its way to another football fortress, Turin, where it was welcomed with open arms by football fans – 20,250 visitors came to the Piazza Vittorio Veneto.
The stars were also out in force to greet the trophy that today's top footballers want to win. UEFA Champions League Trophy Tour ambassador Christian Karembeu, who won the UEFA Champions League twice with Real Madrid CF in 1998 and 2000, was joined by UniCredit ambassadors Gianluca Vialli and Francesco Graziani to mingle with the fans. No less than 4,659 photos were taken of the trophy.
FIFA World Cup winner Karembeu said of the trophy tour: "I think it's an amazing idea that was created by UEFA and UniCredit to make a dream come true for the fans; they can touch the trophy and have their picture taken with it."
"The UEFA Champions League is the most beautiful club competition there is," said Vialli, who won the competition with Juventus in 1996. "It's the competition where the best players play, where there is the best organisation, where there is fair play. The atmosphere in the stadiums is fantastic, there are very good referees, and great coaches."
"There couldn't be any more beautiful occasion for all fans who are passionate about football than to see the Champions League trophy from such a short distance," added Graziani, a World Cup winner with Italy in 1982. "It's the most prestigious trophy there is at club level. You have the chance to touch it, to have a picture taken with it, and to experience it personally."
Grassroots football is also on the trophy tour agenda in Italy. The UniCredit Cup, a youth football tournament, is taking place on Sundays at the tour's main venues. The tournament involves 32 teams of children born in 2000/01, and belonging to sides associated with the Centro Sportivo Italiano, which trains youngsters in different sports. The tournament is being played in accordance with UEFA-supported principles such as Respect and fair play.
Bologna, Palermo and Naples are the next stops on the trophy tour's route to its final destination in Rome, where it will be from 19–22 October. A free exhibition is available to fans, who will be able to take a photograph with the trophy and receive autographs from the ambassadors. Smaller stops, with trophy photo opportunities, will be held in Venice and Florence. The tour also comprises media events, with UEFA and UniCredit representatives joining football celebrities to talk about the European club football's premier competition.
In Bologna, Palermo, Naples and Rome, visitors will be able to visit the huge UniCredit Arena, a large pop-up stadium. Complete with entrance tunnel, the arena offers fans computer-simulated shots on goal – giving them an enthralling taste of playing in a UEFA Champions League match. A video cube, consisting of four giant TV screens, will add to the atmosphere. In addition, a memorabilia exhibition includes players' boots, jerseys and a changing room with kits from all 13 UEFA Champions League-winning clubs.
Remaining dates and venues for 2012 tour
25–26 September: Venice (Piazza San Marco)
28–30 September: Bologna (Piazza XX Settembre)
2 October: Florence (Piazza della Repubblica)
5–7 October: Palermo
12–14 October: Naples (Piazza del Plebiscito)
19–22 October: Rome (Piazza del Popolo)
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