Lisbon receives Champions League trophies
Thursday, 17 April 2014
The countdown to the UEFA Champions League and UEFA Women's Champions League finals in Lisbon began in earnest as the trophies were handed over to the city.
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Lisbon is now in possession of the UEFA Champions League and UEFA Women's Champions League trophies after being presented with the silverware ahead of next month's finals.
The City Hall – a striking neoclassical building in keeping with Lisbon's proud cultural identity – staged this prestigious event at which UEFA President Michel Platini handed over the distinctive trophies to the mayor of Lisbon António Costa, with UEFA Champions League final ambassador Luís Figo, who won the competition with Real Madrid CF in 2002, overseeing proceedings.
"When the UEFA Executive Committee decided to hold the Champions League final in Lisbon, it was with the idea to go back in time, because it has been too long since the final had been in Portugal," said Mr Platini. "The stadium in Lisbon is magnificent. What I took from EURO 2004 apart from Greece's victory was the passion and love of football the Portuguese have. For those who lost, for France and others – their greatest memory [of UEFA EURO 2004] is of the great conviviality shown by the Portuguese people."
"Lisbon deserves football and football deserves Lisbon," added Costa, with the Estádio do Sport Lisboa e Benfica putting on its first European Cup final since 1967 on Saturday 24 May, two days after the women's showpiece at CF Os Belenenses's Estádio do Restelo. "Lisbon is well-known for bringing through players such as Figo, Eusébio and Cristiano Ronaldo, all home grown at Lisbon clubs. I wish the eight semi-finalists the very best of luck. We are anxiously waiting for you with open arms."
UEFA Champions League holders FC Bayern München were represented by chairman Karl-Heinz Rummenigge and midfielder Xherdan Shaqiri, with defender Lina Magull, part of the VfL Wolfsburg squad who won the 2013 women's decider, also in attendance. "Last year's final brings back some nice memories. Now we are motivated to experience the same again," said Magull. "First we must get past Potsdam in the semi-finals and then we can start dreaming."
Fernando Gomes, president of the Portuguese Football Federation (FPF), added: "It's an honour for us to be holding this event in our 100th year. The 1967 final is always fresh in my mind – it was a fantastic football event. We will be hosting the greatest competition final in the world. Portugal is a country that loves football, and has shown how it can organise events at a European level like EURO 2004 and the Europa League final in 2005. The final will an important milestone for the FA; it will be more than a game."
Prior to their arrival, both prizes had negotiated the Portuguese capital in the company of ex-FC Porto goalkeeper Vítor Baía and Monica Jorge, former coach of the Portugal women's team. The whistle-stop tour started at the beautiful Belem district and continued on one of the city's quintessential trams before arriving at Praça do Comércio – a historically significant square and venue for the annual UEFA Champions Festival between 22 and 25 May.