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Football lifts mood in Rotterdam

Feyenoord's fans painted Rotterdam red for the 31st UEFA Cup final on Wednesday.

A minute's silence 
On Tuesday, the city paid its respects to Pim Fortuyn, the murdered Dutch politician, and tonight there was a minute's silence in his honour before kick-off in the UEFA Cup final between Feyenoord and BV Borussia Dortmund.

You'll Never Walk Alone 
Then, for a while at least, the troubles of the world faded away as football took centre stage at the magnificent Feijenoord stadium - although the traditional football anthem of 'You'll Never Walk Alone', sung by both sets of supporters, seemed to acquire new significance.

Awash with colour 
The mood of expectation in Rotterdam had built throughout the day. By mid-afternoon the city was awash with colour and noise. Car horns and klaxons informed any residents who may not have known it that one of European football's showpiece occasions had come to town. Supporters greeted each other with only one word: final.

Festive mood
Feyenoord red and white seemed to adorn every other person in the street - even those without tickets for the game. Moving on to the stadium the mood was similarly festive. Bathed in sunlight De Kuip - the venue of the EURO 2000™ final - was a spectacular cauldron of sound and excitement.

Massed ranks
The ground began filling almost three hours before kick-off, as first a band and then local schoolchildren entertained the massed ranks of fans. The stadium seemed to shake to its foundations when the teams entered the arena and flags from around the world, from Nigeria to Japan, were flown with pride - reminding us of the global nature of the beautiful game. After Rotterdam, Seville - venue of next season's final and home of a different kind of orange - has much to live up to.