UEFA President Michel Platini said that he hopes this evening's UEFA Champions League final in Moscow is an occasion to remember for the teams and fans alike.
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Worthy of the occasion
Speaking at Tuesday's official dinner to mark the final between Manchester United FC and Chelsea FC at Moscow's Luzhniki Stadium, Mr Platini asked supporters to play their part in contributing to a match worthy of the occasion. "We have here a final with two outstanding and experienced teams who gave us great emotions on the way to this final," Mr Platini told the finalists' representatives, invited guests and dignitaries. "Whoever comes out on top will be a truly worthy winner. We are also looking forward to a great performance by the supporters. English football has a wonderful tradition of absolute passion for our game and I hope that tomorrow night, passion will transform Luzhniki Stadium into a great football temple.
Challenge for all
"Bringing the final to this great city of Moscow was a challenge, a challenge for UEFA, a challenge for the Football Union of Russia, for the city government and for the Russian government," Mr Platini said. "It was a challenge because it was a first. I am glad to say that everyone rose up to this challenge, at all levels, with a lot of goodwill and determination, and I want to express my deep gratitude to everyone who has been involved in this historical event – and in particular to the Russian government, who took the unprecedented decision to waive visa requirements for ticketed fans – and to the mayor of Moscow, who allowed the fan festival to take place on Red Square."
Mr Platini also paid homage to the United players who were lost in the Munich air disaster of 1958. Sir Bobby Charlton, now a United director, is in Moscow with four other survivors of the accident. He said: "I want to pay a special tribute to the fallen heroes of Munich 1958, and welcome to Moscow the four players who, together with Sir Bobby, survived this terrible tragedy – Billy Foulkes, Albert Scanlon, Kenny Morgans and the goalkeeper, Harry Gregg. The Busby Babes will never be forgotten."