It is ten years since Monaco became the traditional venue to herald the start of the new European club competition season every August and the Mediterranean principality is enjoying its moment in the sporting limelight.
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Monaco is well known for its unique and spectacular motor racing Grand Prix – and over the past decade, the European football community has become accustomed to taking over the principality for a few hectic days to get the new campaign off and running. "I believe that the Super Cup is now considered as a five-star event in Monaco," says Pierre Uboldi, the general secretary responsible for the organisation and security of sporting activities at local club AS Monaco FC. "It gives Monaco an economic boost, as well as all of the nearby communes – everyone wins."
"Prince Rainier III wanted to stage this match because it makes Monaco known throughout the entire world. The (royal) family love football – and especially how people speak of Monaco as it becomes a destination for the world of football," added Uboldi, charged by the AS Monaco FC administrative council with leadership of the UEFA Super Cup project. Indeed, the work that goes into the staging of the UEFA Super Cup match and club draws is a year-long labour of love. "The organisation of the next Super Cup match starts the moment that the previous match finishes," he explained. "Gradually meetings take place with the various government services, and the work accelerates from May."
Football's big place
A principality of some 30,000 inhabitants, Monaco is essentially focused on tourism and sport – and football has a big place in the principality's life. "The public is excited about football here," says Uboldi. "Monaco is a city where safety and security is very important, and people come to the stadium with pleasure, because the spectator can sit down with his children knowing that there will be no problems in the stands. This is crucial at the current time – to go to a stadium to watch a football match, and not see fighting in the stands."
Knowledge accrued from staging the Grand Prix has been of massive benefit to Monaco in taking on the demands of a UEFA Super Cup game. "The Grand Prix has helped us enormously as far as football is concerned," Uboldi stresses. "[The Super Cup] is the organisation of the Grand Prix on a reduced scale, in terms of welcoming and accommodating people and security aspects, and we know that these have to be at the highest level."
And for Uboldi himself, the occasion also represents an important professional experience. "We organise on two levels in August – top-flight [French championship] matches and the Super Cup," he said. "Super Cup matches permit me to see things that I can't see in a championship match." A decade of experience has seen Monaco do full justice to the task of greeting the European football family for a new campaign.