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Home Secretary Nuno Magalhães has told news agency Lusa that security equipment needed for EURO 2004 but not covered by the national budget will be hired. But he was quick to reassure people that this would not mean corners would be cut: "For many years we've had Champions League games in Portugal and high-risk games like FC Porto v Benfica, and people should know that there is not going to be any civil war." Security plans for the tournament are currently being drawn up. Contacts have been established with Spanish counterparts, Spain being the only terrestrial access route into Portugal, and the Portuguese Govenment is considering the suspension of Schengen for the duration of the event. ( infordesporto)


CTT, the Portuguese Post Office, became the first Portuguese partner for the EURO 2004 championship. CTT will issue a range of philatelic products, like stamps and postcards, to commemorate the event.


Ernie Walker and the UEFA stadium inspectors compelted their most recent round of visits to the ten stadiums to be used at EURO 2004. Once again, Walker was relatively happy with what he saw: "I'm covered in mud from my feet to my knees, I got rain and fog, but I'm satisfied with what I saw," he said after a day visiting FC Porto's Antas and the stadiums of Braga and Guimarães, all in the north. The next visit will be in February of next year.


Vasco Lynce, head of the domestic organizing body Sociedade Euro-2004, said Wednesday that Benfica cannot receive any of the State subsidies it is due for its new Luz stadium until it submits certificates proving the regualrization of its tax and social security debts.


Only half of the ten stadiums lined up for EURO 2004 have so far received any money from the State: Boavista's Bessa, Sporting's Alvalade XXI, FC Porto's Antas, the Municipal Stadium of Aveiro (Beira-Mar) and the Stadium of the Algarve. The Bessa is by far and away the greatest beneficiary so far, but it is also the stadium nearest completion. It has received a contribution of 5.36 million euros towards the total spent of 31.98 million. The final cost is expected to be 40.69 million. Five other stadiums have not received anything yet, mainly because of bureaucratic obstacles: Benfica's Luz, Braga, Guimarães, Coimbra and Leiria. (A Bola On-line)


Warner Bros. Consumer Products have won from UEFA the licence to be exclusively responsible for the marketing of products related to the EURO 2004 championship. Among other things, the company will be responsible for creating the EURO 2004 mascot.

UEFA explained Wednesday that the theme song to be composed by Phil Collins will be the general theme, valid for all Euros from 2004 on, but that each competition will have its own theme, produced locally.


The british singer/songwriter Phil Collins will compose the theme song for EURO 2004, UEFA announced Wednesday. The decision has been met with discomfort in some quarters in Portugal; the Portuguese were not even consulted in the decision, and the song is not likely to reflect Portuguese culture or tradition. Popular singer Pedro Abrunhosa called the choice "an insult".


The Parliamentary Commission set up to accompany the organisation of the EURO 2004 Championship said Monday that it was worried about FC Porto's new Antas Stadium. Work on the stadium itself is proceeding well, but work on access routes to the stadium is encountering problems: "It would be unbelievable for the stadium to be ready and there to be no way of getting to it," said the head of the Commission, Laurentino Dias, a Socialist Deputy.


Prime Minister Durão Barroso told Parliament (A Assembleia Geral) Tuesday that his Government was committed to seeing through the EURO 2004 Championship, but he said: "If I had been Prime Minister [at the time], there would be no EURO 2004 in Portugal."


Thursday was the day for the UEFA Commission to inspect the stadiums in Leiria and Lisbon (Sporting and Benfica). While Ernie Walker seemed impressed with the progress of the Lisbon stadiums (confirming that Sporting's Alvalade XXI will be important for the tournament), he seemed less pleased with Leiria's, putting a question mark over the possibility of the stadium being finished in time.


Ernie Walker and the Stadium Commission continued their tour of the EURO 2004 stadiums Wednesday. They started in Oporto at Boavista's Bessa and FC Porto's new Antas stadium, moving on to the Estádio de Aveiro where the Commission was pleasantly surprised: "At the beginning I was sceptical, I didn't believe that it was possible, but it's progressing within the foreseen time and budget. we have no doubts that Aveiro will have an important part to play in EURO 2004." In Coimbra, Walker was asked how many games the Municipal Stadium would host. "At least two," he said.

Some of the more striking results of the Euro 2004 qualifiers played Wednesday were:

Luxembourg 0-7 Romania
Germany 2-1 Faroe Isles
Turkey 5-0 Liechtenstein
England 2-2 Macedonia
Wales 2-1 Italy
Ireland 1-2 Switzerland


UEFA's Ernie Walker
and his inspection team are back in Portugal to look over t
he ten stadiums up for the EURO 2004 tournament. Tuesday they visited Braga and Guimarães and said that they were satisfied with progress. Braga's new stadium is running two m onth sbehind the initially designated schedule, but Ernie Walker said that this was not a problem as there was a 'pillow of time' in which to work. The stadium is expected to be ready for Sporting braga to use during the 2003/04 season. The Estádio D. Afonso Henriques of Vitória de Guimarães is expected to be ready in January 2003, and will thus be the first of the stadiums to be up-and-running.

Walker will submit his report on the latest visit to UEFA next week, and it should then be known if any of the stadiums will be left out of the reckoning. It has been suggested that the tournament could go ahead with as few as six stadiums.


Some of the more interesting scores from Saturday in group qualifying games for EURO 2004:
France 5-0 Slovenia
Sweden 1-1 Hungary
Poland 0-1 Latvia
Iceland 0-2 Scotland
Spain 3-0 N. Ireland
Bulgaria 2-0 Croatia
Italy 1-1 Yugoslavia
Slovakia 1-2 England


Work on Benfica's new stadium will recommence Friday. There has been a stoppage of two days while problems of a debt to the constructors were ironed out.

The UEFA Stadiums Commission will be back in Portugal between October 15th and 18th for yet another inspection of the ten grounds to be used at EURO 2004. The tour starts in the North with the Estádio Municipal de Braga and ends in the South with the Estádio do Algarve.


Work on Benfica's new Luz stadium was suspended Tuesday. There were several theories as to why. There have been heavy rains in Portugal over the last two days, which was one of the reasons given by Benfica directors, but there were also rumours that there has been a hitch in the financing plan because of a delay in official documents coming out of Lisbon City Council offices. (A Bola On-line)


The president of the Federação Portuguesa de Futebol, Gilberto Madaíl, said Thursday that the staging of the EURO 2004 tournament is going to cost the country in the region of 5 billion euros. The money will be spent on stadiums, access to the stadiums, transport, hospital facilities and security. He said that one million people are expected, and that in cooperation with Spain, Portugal should be able to control well who comes into the country so as to minimise the risk of hooligan elements disrupting the organisation. (infordesporto)


The expected impact of the EURO 2004 competition on various aspects of Portuguese life will be debated in Parliament on October 7th. The presidents of the FPF and Liga, Gilberto Madaíl and Valentim Loureiro, will talk about the sporting aspects, while in the afternoon, socio-economic considerations will be discussed. (infordesporto )


The Portuguese Stadiums Association (APE) said Thursday that the ten stadiums to be used in the EURO 2004 tournament should be ready by the UEFA deadline of September 2003, and in some cases before. The Association reiterated the importance of having a season's run-up to the competition, in which all aspects of the stadiums' use will be tested, and it revealed that the Sociedade EURO 2004 wants to stage a mini-tournament in the stadiums during the 2003-2004 season. (infordesporto)


The Secretary of State for Public Works, Vieira de Castro, has told the Parliamentary Commission that is accompanying the EURO 2004 project how much it is going to cost to build/ improve access routes to the stadiums to be used in the competition. The State is going to have to fork out 68.3 million euros to create adequate access to nine of the ten stadiums planned for EURO 2004. This value does not include access to Benfica's Luz stadium which may cost as much as 10 million . The values for each stadium are as follows: FC Porto (20 million euros), Sporting (10.9), Coimbra (9.6), Leiria (5.9), Aveiro (5.2), Guimarães (5.2), Faro/Loulé (4.1), Boavista (3.5) and Braga (3.3).

To compensate for the expected increase in air traffic, the Governemnt has said that it may have to re-think the current prohibition of take-offs and landings at the airports of Lisbon and Porto between 24.00 and 06.00.

The Secretary of State for Health, Carlos Martins, told the Commission that no new hospitals are to be built to coincide with the tournament, but that the emergency network will be reinforced, involving increased investment in equipment, facilities, staff and ambulances. (infordesporto)

Reports on the progress of preparations for EURO 2004 will be top of the agenda when the Executive Committee of UEFA meets in Istanbul on September 18th/19th. (A Bola On-line)


FC Porto spokesman Angelino Ferreira said Monday that work on the new Antas Stadium, to be used at EURO 2004, will be completed at the end of September 2003 , a little later than originally planned. Work has been set back due to a disagreement with the City Council about the degree of devlopment around the stadium. (A Bola On-line)


Qualifying games for EURO 2004 got under way on Saturday. Some of the shocks and semi-shocks were the following:

Group 4: Latvia 0-0 Sweden
Group 5: Faroe Islands 2-2 Scotland
Group 8: Belgium 0-2 Bulgaria
Group 9: Finland 0-2 Wales
Group 10: Russia 4-2 Rep. Ireland


All the ten local councils or clubs committed to building or improving stadiums to be used at EURO 2004 have given a firm promise to the Government that their venues will be ready in time for the competition, and within budget. The Government has meanwhile warned once again that it can contribute no more money to the projects, other than that already agreed.


In the match programme of the Sporting v Santa Clara game on September 1st, it was confirmed that Sporting will be able to stay at Alvalade until the end of the season. It was thought that they may have to move out to another stadium for some games owing to work on the new stadium, being built next to the existing one for EURO 2004. Work has begun already, however: all the seats have been removed from half of the West Stand and a section behind the goal of the South Stand, in readiness for demolition work. The new Alvalade XXI can already be seen peeking over the top of the West Stand.


The possibility of the construction workers who are building the stadiums for EURO 2004 going on strike is still in the air. The president of the Northern Construction Workers Union, a branch of ther national union CGTP, Albano Ribeiro, said Thursday that next Tuesday (03/09) there will be a meeting to discuss action to be taken in the light of the difficulties encountered in satisfying the union's demands. (A Bola On-line)


Director of Operations for the final phase of EURO 2004, Michael Kallen, said Wednesday that all the games will be available on terrestrial television, which means that State Channel RTP will have the rights in Portugal. Michael Kallen, Swiss, was presented as the Director of Operations to act as a link between Portugal and UEFA. (A Bola On-line)


The construction unions have once again threatened to stop work on the EURO 2004 stadiums in September if they don't receive an increase in overtime rates and meal subsidies. This would seriously jeopardise the schedule for the construction of the stadiums, already hard pushed. (A Bola On-line)


Responding to an appeal by Liga president Valentim Loureiro for more funds, the Government today declared that they will not give a single extra euro towards the building of the stadiums for EURO 2004. "There will be no additional direct of indirect support, through finanical subsidies or other means, beyond what was signed for by the previous [Socialist] Government ... the difficulties that the country is going through prevent any type of additional support," said Minister for Sport José Luís Arnault. He added that an audit of the EURO 2004 accounts will begin as from September 30th.


The UEFA Stadiums Commission visited the Faro/ Loulé Municipal Stadium on Wednesday and declared themselves satisfied with the progress, compared to the last visit in May. Earlier in the day, the group, headed by Ernie Walker, had seen the work being done on the new Benfica stadium ("It's like watching a baby grow"), and Sporting's ("This will be one of the best stadiums in Europe.")

On Tuesday, the Commission had visited the two stadiums in Oporto, Boavista's and FC Porto's, and União de Leiria's.


The UEFA Stadiums Commission, headed by Ernie Walker, is visiting Portugal to inspect the grounds to be used at EURO 2004. They visited the stadiums in the North of Portugal, specifically Vitória de Guimarães' (modified) and Sporting Braga's (new) Monday and the verdict was one of satisfaction at the progress achieved, despite some geological problems with the one in Braga. Ernie Walker announced that this will be the last inspection trip by the Commission before a report is sent to the Executive Committee in September. A decision will be made at the end of the year on which stadiums, if any, will not the make the cut. ( infordesporto)


A Sociedade EURO 2004, the organising body for the competition, announced Wednesday that tickets for EURO 2004 will be available at the beginning of next year via the Internet and the football associations/federations of each country. Exact procedures for the acquisition of tickets will be announced then. ( A Bola On-line)

The team of inspectors of the EURO 2004 stadiums, led by Ernie Walker, will pay another of their regular visits to Portugal next week. The inspections start on Monday in the North (Braga and Guimarães). On Tuesday they visit Boavista and FC Porto (Oporto) and the municipal stadiums of Aveiro, Coimbra and Leiria in the Centre of the country. The trip ends on Wednesday at Benfica and Sporting (Lisbon) and the intermunicipal stadium of Faro/ Loulé in the Algarve. (A Bola On-line)


A strike by civil construction workers is on the cards if six demands "to dignify their work and the profession" (president of the Northern union Albano Ribeiro) are not met. A September strike, if called, would seriously jeopardise work on the  EURO 2004 stadiums. (A Bola On-line)


The Professional Training Centre for the Food Sector has presented FC Porto with a scale model of the Estádio das Antas. It took four pastry chefs 150 hours to make the model, which FC Porto president Pinto da Costa described as "a work of art". The Centre is to make similar models of all the stadiums that will be demolished ahead of EURO 2004. (infordesporto)


Sporting told the Parliamentary Commission set up to control the preparations for EURO 2004 that a quarter of the old Alvalade stadium will have to be demolished between September and October to make way for the new Estádio Alvalade Século XXI. they also revealed that the whole stadium complex will finally cost 137 million euros, and that Sporting will pay back over ten years the bank loans taken out to finance their part of the bill. (A Bola On-line)


Federation president Gilberto Madaíl said Wednesday that the Selecção will be based in Lisbon during EURO 2004. He also announced that the first 450,000 tickets for the competition will go on sale on the Internet in February 2003. (A Bola On-line)

The Commission to inspect the stadiums to be used at EURO 2004 were told Wednesday that construction on Sporting Braga's new stadium is running two weeks late, but it praised the adventurous nature of the project (the ground will have spectators only on the two sides). The cost of the project has more than doubled from the original estimate to 13 million euros. (infordesporto)


Leiria City Council has applied for a bank loan (from the Dexia Public Finance Bank) of 12.5 million Euros, to be re-paid over a number of years. The money will go towards work on the Estádio Magalhães Pessoa, to be used at EURO 2004 and by União de Leiria. Progress on the EURO 2004 project will be under scrutiny by the Executive Committee of UEFA Wednesday and Thursday in Nyon, Switzerland. (A Bola On-line)


The mayor of Aveiro, Alberto Souto de Miranda, said Friday that the government is six months behind on the payment of 7.4 million euros promised for the construction of the Municipal stadium in the town, which will host some of the EURO 2004 games and will later be the home of Beira-Mar. The stadium is scheduled to be completed in the summer of 2003. (A Bola On-line)


The Secretary of State for Sport, Hérminio Loureiro, admitted Tuesday that some of the stadiums to be used for EURO 2004 were behind schedule but said that the organisation of the tournament was not at risk. "We have to step up the work," he said. (A Bola On-line)


The president of the National Association of Professional Firefighters said Saturday that just two years away from EURO 2004, to be held in Portugal, none of the stadiums to be used has a definitive safety and evacuation plan. Fernando Curto also said that he was sceptical that the current firefighting force was sufficient to cover the event, and that he was worried about the lack of dialogue between the different entities responsible for security. He was speaking at the General Council of the Association in Lisbon. ( A Bola On-line)


The Portuguese Government have suggested that they may suspend the country's committment to the Schengen agreement (regarding the openness of borders between European Union countries) during EURO 2004. The news comes after two Members of Parliament belonging to the Left Bloc were prevented from entering Spain earlier in the week. They were on their way to demonstrate at the Seville summit and were stopped by police on the border with Spain. The incident has caused outrage in many circles and was the subject of debate in Parliament, where the Prime Minister Durão Barroso said: "We too have the right to suspend the Schengen agreements, and we will prbably do so in 2004." (A Bola)


President of the Higher Sports Council, and Mayor of Sintra (near Lisbon), Fernando Seará, called Monday for a change to the constitution that would allow the courts special powers to deal with troublemakers at EURO 2004. On Tuesday,  the spokesperson for the Order of Lawyers , José Miguel Júdice, said that such moves could be illegal. "The last thing we want is for football to affect citizens' fundamental rights," he said. (infordesporto)


UEFA stadium inspector Ernie Walker is once again in Portugal to check up on progress on the stadiums being built for EURO 2004. The Scotsman has so far seen work on the stadiums of Coimbra, Sporting and Benfica and has declared himself satisfied with progress. ( A Bola On-line)


The new logo for EURO 2004 was unveiled in Lisbon Monday. It consists of a heart encircling a football and features that are allusive to Portugal: the sun, the colours of the flag ... The logo was designed by Wnek Gosper for the company RSCG, based in London. The Portuguese Football Federation, however, were not 100% happy with the design; they had preferred one that was more overtly allusive to Portugal. The Wnek design won because, according to the Executive Director of UEFA, Gerard Aigner "It is more appealing to European audiences". (A Bola)


The draw took place Friday for the qualifying phase of EURO 2004. Santa Maria da Feira was the venue for the draw for the ten groups of five teams each which will battle it out for a place in the finals, to be played in Portugal. (See 25/11 for the qualifying system). The draw is as follows (Portugal qualify automatically as hosts):

Group 1: France, Slovenia, Israel, Cyprus, Malta
Group 2: Romania, Denmark, Norway, Bosnia-Herz., Luxembourg
Group 3 : Czech republic, Holland, Austria, Belarus, Moldova
Group 4: Sweden, Poland, Hungary, Latvia, San Marino
Group 5: Germany, Scotland, Iceland, Lithuania, Faroe Islands
Group 6 : Spain, Ukraine, Greece, N. Ireland, Armenia
Group 7: Turkey, England, Slovakia, Macedonia, Liechtenstein
Group 8: Belgium, Croatia, Bulgaria, Estonia, Andorra
Group 9 : Italy, Yugoslavia, Finland, Wales, Azerbaijan
Group 10: Rep. Ireland, Russia, Switzerland, Georgia, Albania


The seeds have been announced for the EURO 2004 qualifying phase, which will begin on 7/8 September 2002 and end on 11/12 October 2003 (Play-off dates are 15/16 November and 18/19 November, 2003). The seeds are: France, Sweden, Spain, Czech Republic, Germany, Rep. Ireland, Romania, Italy, Belgium, Turkey. There will be ten groups, the winners of which will qualify automatically for Portugal 2004. The second-placed teams will have to win a play-off to qualify. The 15 countries thus qualified will join the hosts Portugal in the finals. The draw for the qualifying phase will take place on January 25th. (infordesporto)


Both Benfica and Sporting will receive financial help from Lisbon City Council, in the order of £7.5m, to go towards the building of their new stadiums, to be used in EURO 2004. (A Bola)


The draw for the qualifying stage of EURO 2004 will take place in the Europarque complex in Santa Maria da Feira, in the North of Portugal, on January 25th, 2002 at 11.00 local time. The 50 countries involved will be drawn into ten groups of five and will play out the qualifying group games between September 7th 2002 and September 12th 2003. The play-offs will be in November, 2003. there will be five seeds, based on performance at EURO 2004 and the qualifying stage of the 2002 World Cup. France is already a seed. Portugal will qualify for the competition as hosts and they will be joined by 15 other teams: the winners of each of the ten groups plus the five winners of the play-offs between the second-placed team in each group.

The dates of the qualifying games are the following:

07 and 08 September
12 and 13 October
15 and 16 October

29 and 30 March
01 and 02 April
07 and 08 June
10 and 11 June
06 and 07 September
09 and 10 September
11 and 12 September

The play-offs will be on November 15 and 16, 2003 (first leg) and November 19 and 20 (second leg)

EURO 2004 will take place between June 12th and July 4th, 2004.



A meeting of Benfica directors to discuss the increasingly urgent question of the new Estádio da Luz was postponed Tuesday for lack of a quorum. Mário Dias, vice-president for Benfica's patrimony, was quoted in A Bola as saying that the the date for the EGM, in which Benfica supporters will vote for or against the new stadium, must be set this week or time will run out for the stadium to be included in the group of stadiums to be used at EURO 2004. "If we don't say, publicly and urgently, that we will be in the EURO and that we can satisfy all the conditions to go ahead with the construction of the new stadium, then it will be UEFA itself that removes Benfica, irreversibly," he said. Meanwhile, president of the Financial Department at the club, João Carvalho, said Tuesday that his department had not yet received any documentation about the new stadium from the board of directors, a worrying situation given the urgency of the case. (A Bola/ maisfutebol ) (video - infordesporto)


The UEFA Stadium Commission visited Leiria's municipal stadium Wednesday and Ernie Walker declared "This is one of the nicest projects of the ten Portuguese stadiums for EURO 2004. The renovated stadium is expected to be ready in July 2003 and the estimated cost is £21m. (A Bola On-line)


Ernie Walker and the UEFA Stadium Commission are in Portugal again to check up on the progress being made with the stadiums designated for use at EURO 2004. They visited the Municipal Stadium of Faro/ Loulé in the Algarve Tuesday. Walker said: "Portugal has already proved, with the World Exposition of 1998 that it organised, that it is capable of great undertakings." The Commission visits Lisbon (Benfica, Sporting), Leiria, Aveiro (Beira-Mar) and Oporto (FC Porto, Boavista) Wednesday. (A Bola On-line)


President of the Portuguese Football Federation Gilberto Madaíl reacted angrily Tuesday to comments made Monday by the Governor of the Bank of Portugal, who suggested that hard-up Portugal would have to think again about several major national projects, among them the staging of the EURO 2004 Championship. The FPF President said: "This is an investment - it's not expenditure." (infordesporto)


Benfica presented Monday a project for a hypothetical new Luz stadium to the UEFA authorities in Nyon, Switzerland. The move seems to negate the possibility of a municipal stadium, to be shared with Sporting, which has been doing the rounds of the press in recent weeks and is still being advocated by the Lisbon City Council. Before the old Luz is brought down and a new one built, the sócios of Benfica would need to be consulted in a General Meeting, according to a promise made by president Manuel Vilarinho.


Benfica have decided that the best course of action in terms of the Luz Stadium would be to tear it down and build a new one nearby. The old Luz costs over £1m a year to maintain and would not be accepted as a venue for Euro 2004 as it is. The other option, of renovating it, has also been rejected as inviable because of the maintenance costs, which will be similar to now, and the fact that the stadium could still not be used for anything other than football. It would also cost over £30m, whereas a new stadium will cost double that, with the government footing a quarter of the bill. There have also been reports that Lisbon City Council may get involved in the project, making the new stadium semi-municipal. The new stadium (pic), to keep the name of the Luz, will seat 75,000 and will take 2 years to build. No final decision will be made, however, unitl the sócios (club members) have been consulted in an EGM. A survey on website infordesporto had 66% of visitors in favour of a new stadium. (maisfutebol)

Tuesday also saw work begin on FC Porto 's new 50,000 stadium (pic), to coincide with a visit from Ernie Walker and the UEFA people for their latest inspection of the EURO 2004 venues. While they were in the north, the inspectors also visited Boavista's Bessa stadium, which has one-and-a-half stands already built. "This project is the only one that you can look at and believe in," said Ernie Walker. (maisfutebol)


Sports Minister José Lello has extended the deadline for Benfica to submit the project for a new or modified Luz stadium with a view to it being included in the group of stadiums to be used for EURO 2004. The original deadline was March 31st, now extended to April 23rd. "What is important above all is that Benfica resolve this question in peace ... because it's important that the Luz is part of the event," said the minister. (infordesporto)


The project for FC Porto 's new stadium (picture) was presented to the public Friday. It is to be built a stone's throw away from the existing Estádio das Antas on land which at present has the club's training grounds. A feature of the multifunctional stadium is that it will be possible to fill its 50,214 places in 20 minutes and to clear them in six. It will cost in the region of £75m, a quarter of which will be paid by the state. ( A Bola/ O Jogo)


The UEFA Stadium Commission , headed by Ernie Walker, is in Portugal to check up on progess being made on the construction of stdiums for 2004. The president of the Municipal Council of the town of Aveiro in the north (home of Primeira club Beira-Mar) met with the Commission and afterwards told the press that the local stadium, which was originally budgeted at about £18m will now cost up to £27m. Excavations on the site of the stadium are to begin in May, construction in August. Completion is scheduled for August 2003. Meanwhile, work on the Estádio Inter-Municipal of Faro/Loulé (which will be the home of Farense and Louletano after the competition) will begin three months ahead of schedule, in June. (maisfutebol)


The first stone was laid today for Sporting 's new Alvalade stadium. It will hold over 50,000 spectators and will cost between £50m and £60m, a quarter of which will be paid by the state. Sporting's president, Dias da Cunha, called it "a pioneering project." It was blessed by a catholic priest.


President of the Portuguese Football Federation, Gilberto Madaíl, has once again reassured the Portuguese public that work on the stadiums to be used for EURO 2004 is in hand. At the Symposium organized by A Bola, he said that work on all the ten stadiums involved will be under way by the summer. (See Quotes) (A Bola)


Sports Minister José Lello has visited the site of Sporting's new Alvalade Stadium, work on which has just begun: "It was important that I came here so that everyone could see that work on EURO 2004 was under way ... It will be a magnificent and emblematic stadium and a way for us to demonstrate the rigour with which EURO 2004 will be run." To the suggestion that the Estádio da Luz wll not be used for the event, the Minister responded: "Deadlines are being respected - the plan for the Luz has until March 31st to be presented ... The final will definitely be in Lisbon, and nothing stops me from thinking that the Luz will be a venue at EURO 2004."


Work on Sporting's new stadium will now begin on Monday January 15th after Lisbon City Council gave the official go-ahead. The first jobs will be to fence off the area, next to the existing Alvalade Stadium,  and begin excavations. ( Maisfutebol)


Sports Minister José Lello met for the first time with the organizing body of EURO 2004: "EURO 2004 will serve to present 'Portugal' as a brand, a country that does things well and with rigour ... I'm very optimistic about the future ... We need to be less obsessed about the construction of the stadiums and concentrate more on a plan of action in strictly organizational and legislative areas, safety, staffing, tickets and other areas equally vital to the success of the event," he said. FPF president, Gilberto Madaíl, added that "this year is going to be decisive in terms of the solidarity between the organizing body and the Government." He also outlined some of the strategies planned for publicizing the event, explaining that as from 2002, Portuguese airports will have information desks and that Europe, especially Spain, and later Latin America and the West Coast of the USA will be targeted. (Jornal de Notícias)


Work on Sporting's new stadium will not now begin tomorrow as previously planned. The contractors are waiting for a municipal license from the Lisbon City Council. (A Bola)


FPF president Gilberto Madaíl met today with Benfica president Manuel Vilarinho to discuss progress on preparations for EURO 2004. After the meeting, he said that the Luz stadium will probably be the venue for the final of the competition, but did not say categorically that it will: "This is a dynamic and not a static process," he said. (Infordesporto)


The city of Coimbra has been given the green light by the government to go ahead with improvements to its Estádio Municipal, to be used at Euro 2004. The work will go out for tender some time during the first quarter of 2001 and is due to be completed in June 2003. The stadium will be the only one at the championship which is not fully covered. Sports Minister José Lello took advantage of the presentation of the project to reassure doubters about the smooth running of preparations: "Euro 2004 will be marked by rigour, transparency, efficiency, exigency and excellence." (Jornal de Notícias)


The Secretary General of the Belgian Football Federation, Alain Courtois, had been in Lisbon attending in a consultative capacity meetings directed towards discussion of the organization of EURO 2004. Asked if he thought the fact that Portugal has had four Sports Ministers in the last year would prejudice preparations for the the tournament, he said: "We had six different Ministers of the Interior, responsible for security ... you have to understand that it's not men that make or break thes projects, it's the institutions involved."


Portugal has a new Sports Minister as from today. The previous one, Armando Vara, was forced to resign after he was implicated in a public funds scandal. The new minister is José Lello, the fourth in little over a year. He was quick to praise the efforts of his predecessor and to dispell fears over the future of Portugal's hosting of the EURO 2004 competition: "The deadlines are all within what was predicted and the EURO will be organized in an exemplary fashion," he said.


Minister of Sport, Armando Vara, met today with various figures involved in the organization of Euro 2004, including the presidents of FC Porto, Boavista and Sporting Braga, all clubs which are building new stadiums to be used during the championship. After the meeting, the Minister declared that he was "confident" that all the stadiums and respective infrastructures are on course and will be ready on time.