Hamburg is already looking forward to a double first next year when the inaugural final of the new UEFA Europa League competition will be the first European final to be staged in the northern German city.
The game will be held at the Hamburg Arena on 12 May 2010, and Hamburger SV chairman Bernd Hoffmann, whose club are based at the stadium, predicts an even better occasion than the last UEFA Cup final hosted in Germany. "The final in Dortmund in 2001 [Liverpool FC 5-4 Deportivo Alavés] may be a mild affair compared with the atmosphere we could generate in Hamburg," said Hoffmann, speaking at Monday's launch of the logo and visual design for the final.
The big match is being organised by UEFA together with the city authorities and the German Football Association (DFB). For Hoffmann, as well as for many local residents, the ideal scenario would be for Hamburg to reach the final. The Bundesliga club were beaten UEFA Cup semi-finalists last season, and this term Bruno Labbadia's team are well-placed to progress to the knockout rounds from UEFA Europa League Group C.
'In our backyard'
"For sure, this is not a normal final for us, as it will take place in our living room," Hoffmann told uefa.com. "I really hope we can make it. That way, a good part of the crowd would have a very short trip to the Arena." Mladen Petrić, the Hamburg forward who was on the losing side against Werder Bremen in last season's semi-final, also spoke about having unfinished business, citing a wish to face Werder again "on the road to the final".
Regional officer for sport and culture, Prof Dr Karin von Welck, highlighted Hamburg's hosting credentials, as both sports-mad city and lively, cultural hub. "We have 150,000 footballers playing for 450 clubs in the town, and Hamburg is also a great place to visit – it is not just a top shopping centre but you have many theatres and museums," she said.
It fell to Germany Under-19 coach Horst Hrubesch, a European Champion Clubs' Cup-winning captain with HSV in 1983, to unveil the logo and design for the final at a ceremony at the city's EAST Hotel Cinema. The design shows two players fighting for the ball against a backdrop of Hamburg's port, St Michaelis Church and the stadium itself. Hrubesch told uefa.com it was a fitting image: "Getting to the final is the result of two years' hard work – one year you have to qualify for the competition, the next you have to beat off all the competition to win it."
The ambassador for the 2010 final will be another favourite son of Hamburg, Uwe Seeler. The club's legendary striker, who played for HSV from 1953 to 1972, scoring 507 goals, said: "I dream of my team playing the final in our living room." Hamburg are one of ten German teams to have played in a UEFA Cup final, having lost the 1982 showpiece to IFK Göteborg. Were they to go one better this time around in the UEFA Europa League, they would follow five previous Bundesliga winners of the UEFA Cup.
With Hertha BSC Berlin and Bremen also in UEFA Europa League contention, football fans living in Germany can buy tickets for the final exclusively via the DFB website, dfb.de, between 1 December and 15 January. Worldwide ticket sales will begin later in 2010. Come 12 May, fans will also be able to watch the action from a fanzone at the city's Fischauktionshalle. The build-up to the final will continue in February with the start of a grassroots youth football competition. UEFA President Michel Platini will then hand over the trophy to the local organising committee on 13 April.
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