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Behind the scenes: Europa League and Europa Conference League draws

A new video piece, presented by Engelbert Strauss, goes behind the scenes at the UEFA Europa League and UEFA Europa Conference League group stage draws.

Europa League draw: Behind the scenes

A clean draw, perfect lighting, correctly cued video and a successful broadcast are all key to the organisers of the UEFA Europa League and UEFA Europa League Conference group stage draws, and as this piece presented by Engelbert Strauss confirms, creating the right backstage vibe is a huge help.

This season's draws for the Thursday night club competitions took place, back to back, on 26 August in Istanbul, with senior UEFA event expert Joanna Greene charged with overseeing operations in Türkiye, factoring in the needs of dignitaries in the building and broadcasters all over the world. Her leadership style? "Try to be calm and relaxed and also very open and very inviting," she says. "The key is to make sure that we're able to deliver and we're not panicked."

Preparing the venue for this season's draws began seven days in advance of the ceremony itself. "We set up our rigging and then our stage set, brought in our furniture, and started hanging all sorts of lights and video," Greene explains. "Thereafter, we brought our cameras and our trucks for running the OB [outside broadcast] van and, once that was over, we were able to put it all together in a rehearsal setting.

"The first rehearsal is always a technical rehearsal. It's relatively difficult. We stop and we go. We use stand-ins instead of our guests and we somehow try to put it all together visually for the TV director."

The UEFA Europa League group stage draw in full flow
The UEFA Europa League group stage draw in full flowUEFA via Getty Images

The draw guests, and presenter Adriano Del Monte, only get their chance to rehearse on the morning of the draws once all the teams are known, though Greene ensures there is enough time for a run-through before the ceremony is staged for real.

The adrenaline is pumping everywhere on the day of the draws, but the secret to a successful event for Del Monte is keeping things relaxed. "I really enjoy the thrill of being live, of performing live," says the Italian-Australian reporter. "I like to bring a very chill, calm approach to everything I do. It's how I am as an individual and I like to translate that when I present."

Crucial to that relaxed environment is the knowledge that the team running the event have the experience and expertise to make everything work.

Greene explains: "The technicians … have been working on this event for quite some years now, and we have the chance to all get together every year, once a year, and do these draws together. And it's really important to the success of the team that we know each other and we're really happy to be here … and [we're] already looking forward to next year's."

"Team work makes the dream work," Del Monte adds. "You've got experts from all sorts of fields, all sorts of walks of life, different countries, different cultures, and that's a beautiful thing about football."

The draws mark the start of the two competitions proper, and the team in Istanbul were thrilled that it was all smiles once the cameras turned off. As Del Monte puts it, "Hopefully, at the end of the show, [everyone is] smiling and they've all had a very clean draw. That is what I take true pleasure in doing: seeing other people around me enjoy themselves and have a great time."