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UEFA Champions Festival leaves social legacy in London

From blind football demonstrations to cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR) training, the UEFA Champions Festival 2024 showcased UEFA’s social responsibility initiatives across five sites in London, supported by a cast of UEFA Champions League legends.

Female amputee players at the UEFA Champions Festival
Female amputee players at the UEFA Champions Festival

The UEFA Champions Festival opened its doors last week, welcoming Londoners and fans of Borussia Dortmund and Real Madrid for four days of live music, giveaways, activations from UEFA Champions League sponsors and much more at some of the city’s most iconic places – Trafalgar Square, Somerset House, the South Bank, Regent Street and Potter's Fields Park in the shadow of Tower Bridge.

Social responsibility is part of the festival's DNA, which was opened by Mayor of London Sadiq Khan and UEFA Champions League winner John Obi Mikel at Trafalgar Square last Thursday.

John Obi Mikel with Mayor of London Sadiq Khan - UEFA/UEFA via Getty Images)
John Obi Mikel with Mayor of London Sadiq Khan - UEFA/UEFA via Getty Images)UEFA via Getty Images

While the mayor was treated to a skills exhibition by local youngsters on the pop-up pitch, Mikel headed over to Potter’s Field Park to participate in UEFA’s Get Trained, Save Lives CPR training alongside one of the faces of the campaign, Dutch legend Ruud Gullit.

"I’ve played in games when this type of thing has happened, and credit to those people who know how to perform this. You have to use the right technique at the right speed, and then that means you can save a life.

"It’s an incredible experience for me, because I’ve never done this before It’s something that I would like to take more classes on."

John Obi Mikel on UEFA's Get Trained, Save Lives campaign

How you can save a life

Showcasing football for everyone

Somerset House hosted several social and sustainability initiatives, as well as being the venue for the five-a-side legends tournament on the eve of the final, with some of the former stars also using their profile to give back and support UEFA’s inclusivity efforts during their stay.

For example, Kaká, a UEFA Champions League winner with Milan, dropped in for a blind football showcase, meeting England national team players and trying the sport himself using a blindfold.

Kaká with young blind footballers at the Champions Festival in London
Kaká with young blind footballers at the Champions Festival in London

Amputee footballers also had the opportunity to showcase their athleticism to an impressed crowd, while UNHCR staged a tournament for refugee footballers and Kaka’s fellow Brazilian Cafu received an education in powerchair football. An active participation team sport for people with a high level of impairment, it requires players to exhibit enormous skill in swivelling their electric wheelchairs to make contact with the ball.

Encouraging sustainable behaviours

UEFA partners also delivered a range of activations across the five festival sites, with Pepsi offering incentives to all fans who passed through to recycle their cups. Fans had the option to give their cups to roving recyclers, or to spin for the chance to win a host of prizes, from keyrings and free drinks to UEFA Champions League final tickets.

Pepsi also collaborated with UK technology start-up, Pavegen, to install a dance floor generating kinetic energy for the UEFA Champions League Friday Night Show headlined by Rudimental, with the energy generated by fans' dancing contributing to powering the event.

Rudimental lit up London's Trafalgar Square
Rudimental lit up London's Trafalgar Square UEFA via Getty Images