The 2010 UEFA Champions League final – awarded to the Santiago Bernabéu Stadium in Madrid by the UEFA Executive Committee at its latest meeting – will be special because it will be played on a Saturday.
Not just a final – an event
Following an Executive Committee decision in December, UEFA Champions League finals will take place on Saturdays from 2009/10, especially with families and children in mind. "The final in Madrid will not just be a final," said UEFA President Michel Platini after the Executive Committee meeting in Vaduz, Liechtenstein, on Friday. "It will be an event."
Meanwhile Hamburg, the 2010 UEFA Cup final venue, holds happy memories for the UEFA President. In 1980/81, Michel Platini scored twice as his club, AS Saint-Etienne, thrashed Hamburger SV 5-0 in a UEFA Cup third round first-leg tie at the German city's Volksparkstadion – the site of the Arena Hamburg where the 2010 final will be played. "Hamburg is a fine city with a fine stadium – I won when I played there, and I didn't win very often in Germany," Mr Platini said.
"We have not attributed the finals for 2011," said UEFA communications and public affairs director William Gaillard, "because we need to further consider some of the bids, owing to stadium facilities that are not yet completed, and there are also some tax issues."
The Executive Committee also heard a status report in Vaduz on preparations for the UEFA EURO 2012™ tournament in Poland and the Ukraine. UEFA has emphasised its strong commitment and support to the two host countries in helping to prepare a successful EURO in four years' time. "Solutions are being found and great efforts are being made," said Mr Platini.
FA of Albania
In addition, the formal decision was taken to suspend the Football Association of Albania from all UEFA activities. This follows a recent decision by FIFA to suspend the Albanian association in the wake of what the world body said was heavy political interference.
In on-the-field matters, the Executive Committee gave the green light to guidelines on disputed goals – for example, what can be considered as an own goal or as a goal attributed to an attacker. "If a shot is on target, for example, and if it is felt that the ball is going into the net and someone else touches it, the goal belongs to the attacking player," said Mr Platini. "But if the ball is going wide of the goal and is touched or deflected into the goal, it would be considered an own goal, or a goal for the attacker's team-mate if he touched it last." The guidelines will be used for statistical purposes.
During his stay, Mr Platini met with members of the Liechtenstein authorities. The principality, of some 35,000 inhabitants and around 1,700 registered footballers, lies between Austria and Switzerland. "We are happy to have been here in Liechtenstein. We chose [Vaduz] for the meeting because Liechtenstein is situated between the two co-hosts of [UEFA] EURO 2008™. What better place could we choose?"
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