ISTANBUL: European football may glory in the new-found riches of the Champions League but the bedrock of tradition is still a crucial factor in maintaining the glamour and status of continental club competitions writes KEIR RADNEDGE.
That has been underlined by the decision of UEFA’s executive committee in Istanbul today to award the 2014 Champions League Final to the Estadio do Sport Lisboa e Benfica and the Europa League showdown to the new Juventus Stadium in Turin. Benfica and Juventus were contenders for European prizes back in the pioneering days of the late 1950s.
Lisbon will thus stage the top European club game for the first time since 1967 when Celtic defeated Internazionale in the Estadio Nacional. Benfica hosted its own home club’s UEFA Cup final second leg against Anderlecht in 1983 also played host the Euro 2008 final in which Greece surprisingly beat hosts Portugal. The 2013 Champions League Final has already been assigned to Wembley.
The award of the 2014 Europa League final to Turin will be the second time a one-off European final has been staged in the home of Juventus. The club’s previous Stadio Comunale saw the single-leg final of the original Fairs Cup in 1965 when Juventus were upset 1-0 in front of their own fans by Ferencvaros of Hungary.
UEFA’s executive committee also awarded the 2015 European Under-21 Championship to the Czech Republic while the 2016 European Futsal Championship finals will go to Belgrade.
Other youth host venues:
• UEFA European Under-19 Championship: Hungary (2014), Greece (2015) and Germany (2016)
• UEFA European Under-17 Championship: Malta (2014), Bulgaria (2015) and Azerbaijan (2016)
• UEFA European Women’s Under-19 Championship: Norway (2014), Israel (2015) and Slovakia (2016)
• UEFA European Women’s Under-17 Championship: England (2014), Iceland (2015) and Belarus (2016)
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