Expect passion, pride and celebration as host city Glasgow prepares for UEFA EURO 2020.
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Beaming with pride as the official UEFA EURO 2020 host city logo was launched back in October 2016, coaching legend Sir Alex Ferguson was the special guest to celebrate the start of an adventure that will see Glasgow’s iconic Hampden Park stage three group matches and a round of 16 encounter during June 2020.
Fast forward to 2019, and plans are well under way to ensure Scotland’s reputed passion for football is reflected in a festival everyone can enjoy. Ian Maxwell, the Scottish Football Association’s chief executive, shared some of his plans for a EURO neither Glasgow, nor Europe, will ever forget.
“I think every Glaswegian will be very proud,” says Maxwell, who is also from the city. “I think we watch more football than any other country in Europe, and it’s great that we will be able to bring the Glasgow public top-level football.”
As a former professional footballer, Maxwell has first-hand experience of the importance of the sport within the national identity. “Scotland and the Scottish people are well known for being hugely passionate about football,” he says, “and Glasgow is a well-known football city. It’s great that we’ve been able to bring the EURO to Hampden Park.”
Football is a fundamental part of Scottish culture and the country’s most popular sport, enjoying sustained growth in many areas, including women’s and grassroots, as investment to promote participation continues to be a priority for the Scottish FA.
On the pitch, things are looking positive for head coach Alex McLeish’s men, as they finished top of UEFA Nations League Group C1 and can look ahead to their EURO play-off in March 2020, if required. Qualifying is everyone’s dream, according to Maxwell, to ensure Scottish fans, affectionately known as the Tartan Army, can cheer on their team, as well as celebrating Glasgow as a host city.
“The Tartan Army are well received all over the world, and I think Glasgow will definitely be as hospitable at hosting,” says Maxwell. “EURO ’96 was our last appearance at the European Championships. So, there’s essentially a generation that has missed out on watching Scotland perform at major finals. That’s something we’re desperate to put right and we will make sure we’re performing at Hampden in EURO 2020.
“Our mission is to inspire a nation to love football, and this gives us the opportunity to do that. We will obviously see top-quality players on the pitch, and it’s up to us as an association to use that engagement to drive participation and involvement in football throughout the country.”
Hampden Park staged the UEFA Champions League final in 2002, when Real Madrid lifted the most coveted trophy in European club football, after defeating Bayer Leverkusen 2-1. That thrilling final continues to live long in the memories of Maxwell and Scottish football supporters, having already showcased what Glasgow has to offer.
Ultimate Sport City
“It was an incredible game first and foremost,” Maxwell recalls. “It was a great game. Everybody remembers the Zidane goal. It was great for the city. There was obviously a huge amount of interest in the stadium. The world came to Glasgow to watch that match, and it’s something that we’re very proud of.”
Scotland’s reputation as a friendly, passionate and fun-loving country comes naturally, but the commitment to staging major sporting events takes collaboration and vision. The Scottish FA, along with its partners in Glasgow and throughout Scotland, are focused on helping to host a unique EURO, a jewel in its event crown, as Glasgow aims to build on its status as one of the world’s top-five Ultimate Sports Cities of 2018.
“Scotland has a real history of being able to put on high-quality, high-profile events, and the association has been a key player,” says Maxwell. “We’ve hosted Champions League finals and other games. I think it’s an incredibly brave decision by UEFA to take the EURO around Europe as they’re doing. I think it’s a very fitting way to celebrate the competition’s 60th anniversary, open it up to as many supporters as we can, take top-class elite level football to as many supporters across the continent as we can. It’s a great initiative.”
In addition to the carnival atmosphere a football festival such as the EURO brings, the Scottish FA is also seizing the opportunity to reach out to all corners of the community, including people living with dementia and at risk of social isolation.
“For the events themselves, obviously there will be fan zones,” adds Maxwell. “We have a pioneering Football Memories programme which brings people with dementia and similar illnesses together to discuss the good experiences football has given them, allowing them to connect on a social level. We’re also looking at how we can connect with young people, schools, clubs and families to make sure everyone can be part of it and use that engagement to increase awareness of the benefits of football and drive participation.
“I think everyone can expect a very warm welcome to Glasgow and to Scotland,” he concludes. “I don’t think there is any doubt about that. Everybody will get very well looked after, especially because they are coming to be involved in football. I’m sure it will be a great spectacle.”
Scotland’s largest city and often listed as among the friendliest on earth, Glasgow has earned international recognition for its energy, passion, humour and rich cultural fare. The exquisite Kelvingrove Art Gallery and Museum, cutting-edge Gallery of Modern Art and iconic Riverside Museum are world-class institutions and offer free admission. Glasgow’s architectural heritage, meanwhile, ranges from medieval and Victorian splendour to the art nouveau genius of Charles Rennie Mackintosh and contemporary masterpieces. The perfect gateway to Scotland’s dazzling scenery, Glasgow can also pride itself on being a fervent football hub. EURO 2020 venue Hampden Park was for several decades the biggest stadium in the world, as well as the site of European Champion Clubs Cup and UEFA Champions League finals in 1960, 1976 and 2002, and is the home of the famous ‘Hampden Roar’.
15 June: Group D match
19 June: Group D match
23 June: Group D match
30 June: Round of 16
This article originally appeared in UEFA Direct 183