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Ticket launch raises expectation

Another milestone on the road to the UEFA Champions League final was reached in Madrid with the launch of the ticket concept for the showpiece match at the Santiago Bernabéu on 22 May.

Cristiano Ronaldo, Esperanza Aguirre and Raúl González show off a ticket for the final
Cristiano Ronaldo, Esperanza Aguirre and Raúl González show off a ticket for the final ©Carmelo Rubio, RFEF

Players past and present today joined UEFA and local dignitaries at Madrid's Palacio de la Presidencia de la Comunidad to celebrate the launch of ticket sales for the UEFA Champions League final which will be held at the Santiago Bernabéu on Saturday 22 May.

Real Madrid CF's Raúl González and Cristiano Ronaldo – winners of four European Champion Clubs' Cups between them – along with other UEFA Champions League winners Fernando Hierro and Manuel Sanchís and the final ambassador Emilio Butragueño, were in attendance as the ticketing process for this year's final was explained.

An allocation of 11,000 tickets will go on sale to the Spanish and international general public between the afternoons of Monday 8 March and Friday 19 March, exclusively via Europe's football website UEFA.com. Once the application period has finished, allocation will be decided by lottery.

The president of the autonomous Comunidad de Madrid, Esperanza Aguirre – who was presented with the very first ticket for the final – said she was looking forward, in particular, to the week of festivities that will take place in the build-up to the showpiece match. "Anticipating one of the biggest sporting events in the world, we will have seven days of events which will include the UEFA Women's Champions League final at the Coliseum Alfonso Pérez and the UEFA Grassroots Day," she explained.

The chairman of the UEFA Club Competitions Committee, Michael van Praag, emphasised the importance of "inspiring a new generation of fans and players" with special ticket packages available to children. A total of 2,000 tickets are reserved for kids supporting the two finalist teams, with another 500 destined for children from the general public and 500 for youngsters involved in the UEFA Champions Festival.

Each youth package comprises tickets for a child and an accompanying adult. "As the brainchild of [UEFA president] Michel Platini, we will see the UEFA Champions League final played on a Saturday for the first time," Van Praag said. "This means more children can attend the game. We are seeking to inspire the next generation and what better way to do that than on the ultimate stage. Children are the future of our game."

The net capacity of the Santiago Bernabéu for the match will be 75,000. The finalist clubs will be allocated 21,000 tickets apiece, meaning 42,000 tickets for their supporters on top of the 11,000 made available to fans worldwide.

The last time European club football's elite competition concluded at the home of Real Madrid was 1980, when Nottingham Forest FC emerged triumphant. Ángel María Villar, president of the Royal Spanish Football Federation (RFEF), recalled the occasion when he took the stage at the Palacio de la Presidencia.

"It has been 30 years since that game and it is fantastic that people will be coming once again to enjoy a festival of football in Madrid," he said. "It is an honour that the UEFA Champions League final be played in this city. The importance of hosting and celebrating a final is immense and I'm sure it is going to be a success."