Champions League - Platini appeals for calm

Eurosport - Mon, 25 May 18:08:00 2009

UEFA president Michel Platini appealed to Manchester United and Barcelona fans to turn this week's UEFA Champions League final into a football festival and not tarnish the event with violence.

FOOTBALL, michel platini, uefa - 0

More than 40,000 fans with tickets from England and Spain are expected in the Italian capital over the next 48 hours and UEFA has organised fan zones for both sets of supporters as well as a festival site.

However, several thousand fans, especially from England are expected to arrive without tickets, and they are causing UEFA some concern.

Platini, who experienced the worst desecration of European football's showpiece event as a Juventus player in the 1985 final after the Heysel Stadium disaster in which 39 Juventus fans were killed, said that UEFA had every confidence the "dream final" between two of European soccer's most glamorous clubs would go ahead without trouble, even though UEFA is aware of the possibility it could occur.

Platini said: "This is going to be a wonderful match, and the whole world will be glued to this event, that is why it is important that everyone behaves themselves.

"Football must show itself in the best positive light. UEFA is at the service of the fans, as was the case last year with waiving the visas for Moscow and will be the case this year, as we have done everything possible to make sure that they can enjoy the atmosphere, the event and the celebration of football.

"We are therefore counting on the fans to have a good time and to behave. Enjoy Rome, enjoy the festivities and most of all enjoy the football."

UEFA have worked tirelessly with the Italian police and security services over the last two years to ensure that Wednesday's match goes ahead without trouble.

Rob Faulkner, UEFA's Head of Communcations said: "We are fully aware there is a history of incidents in Rome caused by the rogue elements among some fans in the city, but we are not aware of any issues between Barcelona and Manchester United fans and we are expecting them to really enjoy the match in one of the world's greatest cities.

"One area that does concern us is the large number of ticketless fans moving around the city.

"We are asking the fans with tickets to make their way to the stadium early and to be well-prepared and we are asking fans without tickets not to travel."

Last week the British Foreign and Commonwealth Office warned fans which metro stops and other areas of the city to avoid because of the fears of trouble.

The FCO warned fans not to take the metro to the Piazazale Flamino or use the Ponte Duca D'Aosta bridge, the site of violence in the past.

UEFA had threatened to take the final away from Rome if Roma's Champions League quarter-final against Manchester United last season was marred by the sort of violence that occurred on United's previous two visits to the city.

That did not happen but Arsenal fans were attacked before their team knocked out Roma in a last-16 second leg match in March.


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