The final two stadiums for Euro 2004 were inaugurated Tuesday with friendlies against Spanish opposition and firework displays.
was only two thirds full, perhaps because the club's fans have grown accustomed to being in it as it was built stand by stand but continued to have games played there.
The Estádio Municipal de Braga, on the
other hand, where Sporting Braga will play, inaugurated later in the evening, was full of fans wanting to have a first hand look at the most beautiful of the ten stadiums built or revamped for next summer's competition.
Built into a hillside quarry, the stadium is indeed magnificent, but as with others built for Euro 2004 (notably Sporting's and FC Porto's), the playing surface was less than perfect, not helped by the constant rain
that fell throughout the match.
Tuesday sees the final two official inaugurations of stadiums to be used for Euro 2004. In Porto, Boavista play Málaga at the fully completed Bessa
, while later in the evening and a little further north, Sporting Braga face Celta de Vigo in the revolutionary Estádio Municipal de Braga.
Alberto Souto, the
Mayor of Aveiro, has called upon people of the town to show their indignation at the Germany v Holland
group game being trasnsferred to Porto. "I'd like an objective reason to be given for the decision," he said, since it seems that there was never any doubt raised about security for games in the town.
UEFA has decided that each federation competing at Euro 2004 will receive at least 20%
of the tickets for the games in which they are involved. If one of the federations in a given game asks for less than 20%, the remainder of their share may pass to the other federation involved. In an attempt to restrict the sale of the tickets on the
black market,.UEFA also decided that the name of the buyer of the tickets from the federations, who will be allowed a maximum of four, will be printed on the tickets.
The Leiria Municipal Assembly voted
Thursday to force the City Council to renegotiate the deal struck between the Council and União de Leiria, who will be using the local Estádio Municipal, built to be used at Euro 2004. The deal, dating from
November, involves an annual payment to the club by the municipal company in charge of administering the stadium, Leirisport, of up to 1,250,000 euros, as well as exploitation costs (870,000 euros a year),
depreciation (500,000 a year), costs of organizing games and taxes on receipts.
The Estádio Municipal de Aveiro
was inaugurated Thursday with a friendly between local side Beira-Mar (who will be using it for their home games) and Spanish side Osasuna. The game ended 1-1, Muñoz
putting Osasuna in front in the second half and Carlinhos levelling. It went to penalties to see who would take the Troféu Mário Duarte - it was Beira-Mar (4-3).
The PSD (
Partido Social Democrata) of Braga has challenged the cost of the new Estádio Municipal de Braga, which will be used next summer. The PSD claim that the real cost is in fact over 100 million euros
, while the official cost is 83. Even so, the official estimate means that the stadium is by far the costliest per seat of the ten built for the tournament, around 2,700 euros, compared to 1,900 for FC Porto's
Estádio do Dragão and 1,800 for Benfica's Luz.
The president of the National Association of Professional Firefighters
has criticised safety preparations (or the lack of them) for Euro 2004. Speaking to the Parliamentary Commission
set up to monitor work being done for the competition, Fernando Curto said: "There have to be inventories of all existing vehicles, drills in the stadiums, visits to the stadiums, reinforcement of personnel ... things that haven't been done yet ... Ninety per cent of the firefighters are ready to act at the venues, but they don't know the internal plans of emergency and I'm sure that these are not totally ready yet, apart from the fact that there is no articulation between the municipal plans of emergency and those of the stadiums."
Meanwhile, António Laranjo, Director of the tournament, told the same Commission that everything was under control and that "the firefighters have been kept informed from the word go."
will inaugurate the Estádio Municipal de Aveiro Thursday with a game against high-flying Osasuna of the Spanish League.
The Estádio do Algarve
will be properly inaugurated with a friendly between local clubs Farense and Louletano, both of the Segunda B, on January 1st. The stadium was officially inaugurated without a game on November 23rd
and will host the Portugal v England friendly on February 18th.
The third and final wave of Internet sales
of tickets got under way Tuesday. There are just ten games that still have tickets available, and they are:
Estádio Mário Duarte (Aveiro):
Czech Republic v Latvia (15 June)
Estádio Municipal Braga:
Bulgaria v Denmark (18 June)
Estádio Algarve (Faro-Loulé):
Russia v Greece (20 June)
Estádio D. Afonso Henriques (Guimarães):
Denmark v Italy (14 June)
Italy-Bulgaria (22 June)
Estádio Magalhães Pessoa (Leiria)
Switzerland v Croatia (13 June)
Croatia v France (17 June)
Estádio José Alvalade (Lisbon):
Sweden v Bulgaria (14 June)
Estádio do Dragão (Porto):
Italy v Sweden (18 June)
Estádio do Bessa (Porto):
Greece v Spain (16 June)
Spain will be installed in and around Braga,.in the north of Portugal, for the duration of Euro 2004. They will stay at the Hotel da Falperra, in Santa Cristina de Longos, and
train at the Estádio 1.º de Maio in Braga, Sporting Braga's home ground until now.
The draw for Euro 2004 took place in Lisbon Sunday. Portugal
are in the same group as eternal rivals Spain, Greece and Russia. England and France will play each other in the group stage, as will Germany and Holland.
The opening game of the tournament will be
Portugal v Greece, at Porto's Estádio do Dragão at 17.00 on June 12th, 2004.
The groups and positions in the groups look like this:
Sporting Braga will inaugurate the city's new stadium on December 30th with a friendly against Celta de Vigo
. The 30,000-seater stadium is unique in that it has stands on only two sides of the pitch and nestles in the side of a hill.
The owners of the Solplay Hotel
near Lisbon, which will host the English squad next summer, have denied that it may have to close because of debts to the constructor. The company that runs the hotel had full page ads published in all the
major national newspapers Wednesday to explain their position. There had been fears that England might change their choice to a hotel in Spain if this one fell
through, which would be a humiliating blow for the organisers.
200 days to go!
The Estádio do Algarve
was inaugurated Sunday. There was no game played and there was only a simple official opening with fireworks, although an estimated 10,000 were there to witness it. The stadium cost a total of 35 million euros to
build and will host its first game on February 18th of next year, a friendly against England. It was the eighth of the ten stadiums to be inaugurated, just leaving those of Braga and Boavista.
Portugal are top of the pots that will dictate the final groups for the Euro 2004. The pots are:
A: PORTUGAL, France, Sweden, Czech Republic
B: Italy, Spain, England, Germany.
C: Holland, Croatia, Russia, Denmark
D: Bulgaria, Switzerland, Greece, Latvia
The draw for the group stages of the tournament will take place on
The final five countries to qualify for next summer were found after the second legs of the play-offs Wednesday: Holland
beat Scotland 6-0 after losing the first leg 0-1 in Scotland; Russia, who beat Wales 1-0 in Cardiff after the first leg had been drawn 0-0; Croatia won 1-0 in Slovenia after a 1-1 draw in the first leg;
surprise team Latvia, who drew 2-2 in Turkey after having won the first leg 1-0; and Spain, who waltzed past Norway 3-0 in Oslo after scraping a 2-1 win in
Spain. While the Portuguese organisers will be breathing a huge sigh of relief that Spain got through, so important was their contribution going to be in terms of bums
on seats, they will be disappointed in the other three results: Latvia will bring few fans, Russia also, and while the Dutch normally have a good following, they also
have a dangerous hooligan element. The Scots have huge support and have proved harmless on the recent trips of their clubs to Portugal and Seville (for the UEFA
Cup final). In footballing terms, Holland will be the more welcome of the two sides.
The final 16, then:PORTUGAL, France, Denmark, Czech Republic, Sweden, Germany, Greece, England, Bulgaria, Italy, Switzerland, Spain, Croatia, Holland, Russia and Latvia.
FPF president Gilberto Madaíl said Monday that a few months ago there had
been a risk that Euro 2004 would not be played in Portugal given the doubts about the country's ability to pull it off. "I personally had quite a job at an international
level to get UEFA to keep Euro 2004 in Portugal," he told radio station Antena 1. "Things got to a point where there was already a country, and it wasn't Spain, that
was absolutely ready to take on the organisation of Euro 2004 if Portugal failed."
The five play-offs for the competition are finely balanced after the first legs.
Despite historic rivalry with the Spanish, the Portuguese, at least the organisers of the competition, are hoping for an aggregate win for Spain over Norway, given the
revenue that would be lost should neighbours Spain not qualify. The results of the first legs were:
Spain 2-1 Norway
Russia 0-0 Wales
Scotland 1-0 Holland
Latvia 1-0 Turkey
Croatia 1-1 Slovenia
Three Euro 2004 stadiums will be inaugurated in the next ten days. On Sunday, FC Porto play Barcelona
in a friendly at the Estádio do Dragão ('Stadium of the Dragon' - Porto's nickname). On November 15th, the Aveiro Municipal Stadium will be the venue for a Portugal v Greece
friendly, and on November 19th it will be the turn of the Leiria Municipal Stadium to host Portugal v Kuwait in another friendly to prepare the Selecção for next summer.
The Euro 2004 trophy will be on show in Lisbon on November 8th and 9th at the Lisbon branch of the Spanish Department Store chain, El Corte Inglês.
The Parliamentary Committee
set up to monitor the progress of the stadiums for Euro 2004 will discuss November 11th and 12th the question of the Estádio D. Afonso Henriques in Guimarães. Doubts have arisen as to who is the rightful
owner of the stadium, the local city council or the club Vitória de Guimarães.
The Secretary of State for Health, Carlos Martins, told Portuguese press
agency Lusa Saturday that Portugal had acquired a quantity of smallpox vaccinations to meet a possible terrorist bio-attack at Euro 2004. The actual
quantity was not revealed, but it would be enough only to treat those who came into contact with the disease.
A worker died Friday when he fell 15 metres while working on the Aveiro
Municipal Stadium. They are putting the finishing touches to a stadium that will be inaugurated November 15th with the friendly Portugal v Greece.
The Aveiro Municipal Council
, ultimately responsible for the Municipal Stadium which will be used for Euro 2004, have denied rumours that there is a 'structural problem' with the stadium that would keep it from being inaugurated as
scheduled on November 15th with the friendly between Portugal and Greece.
The visit of Ernie Walker, head of the UEFA Stadiums Commission, for yet
another check on the Euro 2004 Stadiums, was an opportunity for the Portuguese Football Federation to announce that the friendly against England on February 18th will take place at the Algarve Stadium
, located between Faro and Loulé.
Germany, who qualified directly from the group phase, have already booked their hotel in the Algarve, in the south of Portugal. They have reserved
109 rooms in the luxury Ria Park Garden, which has adjoining sports facilities.
The most important aspect of the draw for the play-offs to Euro 2004
for the Portuguese - and for the financial success of the tournament - was who Spain would get. It's vital that they qualify for economic reasons - half of the visitors to
Portugal will be Spanish if they qualify. In the event, it could have been worse - the Spanish got Norway, and they will be welcoming that draw rather than Holland or
Turkey, for example. The whole draw is as follows, to be played on the 15th (16th) and 18th (19th) November.
The picture of who'll be playing in Portugal next summer came a little more into focus
Saturday with the last of the qualifying group games. Denmark, Switzerland, Greece, Germany, England, Italy all secured a place in the finals, while in the
respective groups Norway, Russia, Spain, Scotland, Turkey and Wales all confirmed a play-off place, along with Latvia, Slovenia, Holland and Croatia.
, perhaps surprisingly, are the Republic of Ireland, Romania, Poland, Hungary and Belgium.
The eleven countries definitely qualified so far, then, are: Portugal, France, the
Czech Republic, Sweden, Bulgaria, Denmark, Switzerland, Greece, Germany and England.
The Municipal Stadium at Aveiro was officially completed Monday, the fourth
of ten Euro 2004 stadiums to be operational. The 31,200-seater stadium, which will be used by SuperLiga side Beira-Mar, cost 46 million euros to build from
scratch and joins Coimbra, Alvalade XXI (Sporting, also from scratch) and Guimarães on the list of completed stadiums.
The Euro 2004 organisers have sent a mail-shot
to every household in Portugal to coincide with a nationwide publicity campaign to generate interest in the competition amongst the Portuguese.
The mail-shot was a letter from National Team Coach Felipe Scolari:
We're entering the final phase of UEFA EURO 2004, the most important sporting event ever to take place in Portugal.
Portugal and all the Portuguese are going to be playing.
I learned a long time ago that it's not enough to have solid defenders, a midfield full of great players or the best forward line to get the goals.
Both on the pitch and in the day to day life of the country, it's only with real teamwork that we can make sure of victory.
A victory that will be to show a modern and enterprising Portugal, to share the
wealth and diversity of the country with the thousands of tourists that are going to visit us, and to energize the life of the cities that will be venues for the event.
As National Team Coach, I believe that the tactics for Portugal can be one and one only.
Let's play as a great team, united, cohesive and with a winning spirit.
Let's put on the pitch our capacity for work, our will and our determination.
Let's take advantage of this great opportunity to show Portugal to the world and to receive warmly those who are going to visit us.
For this, all the Portuguese, from North to South, are called up for UEFA EURO 2004.
Now it's your turn.
You're called up!
A hug from your friend.
hope to inaugurate their new Luz stadium on October 25th. Marítimo have agreed to postpone the game they were to play against Benfica in Madeira on
the same weekend. The opponents for the inauguration have yet to be announced, but the club is hoping to get either real Madrid or AC Milan.
FC Porto's Estádio do Dragão
will be inaugurated with a friendly match on November 16th, "pitch permitting", according to club president Pinto da Costa.
UEFA decided Thursday that
Portugal will be one of the seeds at the November draw for the EURO 2004 Finals. The other definite seed will be France, and the
two others from 14 will be the teams with the best performance coefficient.
UEFA's Executive Committee decided in Bratislava Wednesday that the play-offs
for qualification to EURO 2004 will not be seeded.
The Associação Sindical dos Profissionais da Polícia (ASPP) (Police Union)
warned Wednesday that 3,000 extra officers would be needed for EURO 2004, apart from the 900 new officers who will be receiving training as from this month.
Ten billion TV viewers
are predicted for EURO 2004, three billion more than in 2000, according to EBS (European Broadcasting Service), comprising the State TV and radio stations RTP and RDP. Each of the 31 games at EURO 2004 will be
covered by at least 19 cameras.
UEFA's Executive Committee will be discussing Wednesday and Thursday the basis on which the play-offs for EURO 2004 will be played. The question is: will there be seeds
(this time) or no seeds (as in 2000).
FPF president Gilberto Madaíl said Monday that between 70 and 75% of the
tickets available for EURO 2004 have been taken up, and he expects that to rise to 100% by the end of the year. Over 270,000 were sold in the first phase, up until
June 16th, and another 140,000 are available until November 24th.
The Coimbra Municipal Stadium will be inaugurated Friday evening. The 30,000-seater
stadium will be used for three games at EURO 2004 and will also be used by local club Académica, currently of the SuperLiga. The Rolling Stones
will play there on September 27th. It is the third EURO 2004 stadium to be fully functional after Sporting's Alvalade XXI and Vitória de Guimarães' Estádio D. Afonso Henriques
, although the latter has had some problems with its licence.
A Portuguese tradition at football stadiums, and one which will be very difficult
to eradicate, is that of an adult being able to take in children without tickets. This has already caused some problems at recent games, notably the international against Kazakhstan and the SuperTaça
between FC Porto and União de Leiria. The organisers of the tournament are considering printing the warning on tickets that children will not be allowed into games without a ticket.
The organisers are still recruiting volunteers to help with the running of the tournament. They have 4,300 already, of a projected need for 5,000, but they
want to recruit more to be on the safe side. Of all the areas involved, the Algarve is the slowest getting off the ground in this respect.
have now qualified for the EURO 2004 finals: Portugal, of course, as hosts, and after Wednesday's results, France, the Czech Republic, Sweden and Bulgaria
. Other teams are in a great position to qualify directly, with just one game left in each group, notably England, Italy and Germany who all now head their respective groups. Neighbours Spain
, the team that the organisers most want to qualify from an economic point of view because they will bring many visitors to the country, struggled to beat the Ukraine 2-1 and still trail Greece in their group.
The Parliamentary Group that is monitoring preparations for the competition, notably the progress of the new stadiums, will hear the Secretary of State for Sport Hermínio Loureiro and the
president of the FPF Gilberto Madaíl on the subject of Vitória de Guimarães' D. Afonso Henriques stadium. Irregularities have emerged concerning the licence for the stadium, creating doubts over whether
it can be used for the competition.
Five national teams will be able to stamp their tickets Wednesday for EURO 2004. France need only to draw with Slovenia, while
Denmark, Sweden, Switzerland and the Czech Republic have only to win to guarantee qualification.
and his stadium inspectors are back in Portugal for yet another round of the ten stadiums to be used for Euro 2004. On Tuesday they visited the
Stadium of the Algarve in the south, and on Wednesday Benfica's and Sporting's stadiums in Lisbon and Leiria's in the centre. The only question mark seems to be over the Municipal Stadium in Leiria
; UEFA need to be certain that it will be completed by September 30th, the deadline.
Football magazine Doze ('Twelve') suggested this week that UEFA were
considering discarding two of the stadiums lined up for EURO 2004 to make it eight to be used. Apparently, five miilion euros could be saved per stadium in operational costs alone. However, FPF president
Gilberto Madaíl was quick to refute the possibility.
Chairman of the UEFA Stadiums Committee, Ernie Walker, returns to Portugal
at the beginning of September for yet another inspection of the stadiums to be used.
A further 15,000 tickets were sold over the weekend in the second phase of
ticketing for EURO 2004. There are now only 95,000 left.
30,000 tickets were sold in the first six hours of the second phase of ticketing for
the EURO 2004 tournament Friday. The phase continues until November 24th. The semi-finals and final are already sold out.
The second phase
of ticket sales for EURO 2004 swings into action Friday. 270,000 tickets have already been sold from applications for 500,000, and another 130,000 now go on sale. "Sales have been an enormous success," said FPF
president Gilberto Madaíl. (See www.euro2004.com)
Boavista president João Loureiro said Wednesday that the Bessa stadium in
Oporto is in danger of being left out of EURO 2004 because of the time being taken by the city council to OK the construction of access roads near the ground.
UEFA and Adidas
have signed a deal for the sports firm to supply equipment, kits and balls for next year's competition.
The Parliamentary Committee accompanying the construction/ works on the
stadiums to be used at Euro 2004 has voiced its concern that Boavista's Bessa Stadium may be deficient in terms of access. An access road near the stadium, in
the built up western side of the the city of Oporto, has yet to gain full planning permission from the City Council and is only forecast for completion in April 2004, just two months before the start of the competition.
Portuguese fashion designer Isilda Pelicano has been awarded the contract to create the 'uniforms' of Portuguese players and officials at Euro 2004, it was
announced Thursday. the clothes will be made with Portuguese materials and will be in tones of brown, to match the Euro 2004 logo and to escape from the normal grey.
The first phase of the sales of tickets for Euro 2004 ended on Monday, with over half a million reservations made, 40% of them from Portugal. Some games have
been over subscribed already and will go to a draw to see who gets the tickets. The next phase begins in August when the organisers will reveal which games still
have tickets available. In this next phase, sales will be on a first-come-first-served basis.
A Director of União de Leiria
, Vasco Pinto Leite, said Wednesday that the club has renewed its protocol with the local council of nearby town Marinha Grande
to use their municipal stadium for its games next season, this despite the fact that a new 30,000-seater stadium is being built in Leiria for Euro 2004. According to
Pinto Leite, Leirisport, the public company in charge of the administration of the Leiria stadium (Estádio Dr. Magalhães Pessoa), is asking an exhorbitant rent to use the stadium.
and the UEFA inspectors visited the stadiums in Coimbra, Aveiro and Oporto (FC Porto) Wednesday. He was, as ever, upbeat, but it seems that
the Aveiro stadium is running a little behind. It should be ready in time, though, Walker believes.
UEFA's Ernie Walker is in Portugal again to cast an eye over the stadiums to be
used in the tournament. Tuesday he visited the Stadium of the Algarve, Alvalade XXI (Sporting) and the new Luz (Benfica). He seemed generally satisfied with progress on all three, and said of the 65,000-seater Luz
: "This stadium is world class, worthy of a final of the Champions League."
As from Thursday 12/06/03, there is exactly one year left to the start of the
biggest sporting event ever staged in Portugal: The EURO 2004 Championship.
Ernie Walker and the UEFA Stadium inspectors will be back between June 17th
and 19th to visit nine of the ten stadiums for Euro 2004. They will not visit Vitória de Guimarães stadium as it is more or less fully completed.
FPF president Gilberto Madaíl
said Wednesday that there is not need to worry about delays in the construction of the Euro 2004 stadiums, namely those at Aveiro, Braga and Leiria (see below), since they will still be ready by September,
within UEFA's requirements. Meanwhile, the company responsible for the Municipal Stadium of Leiria, Leirisport, has denied that there are any delays.
José Luís Arnaut
, the Under-Minister responsible for Euro 2004, has revealed that three of the stadiums to be used are way behind schedule to the tune of ten, four and ten weeks respectively: Aveiro, Leiria and Braga
The inauguration of the Estádio Municipal de Coimbra, originally intended for July 4th, will probably be pushed back because of delays in the completion of the
commercial and residential complex surrounding it, the City Council announced Wednesday. After Euro 2004, the stadium will be the home of Académica.
100,000 tickets for Euro 2004 have been sold on the Internet in just one week. There were 23,000 requests for tickets, England, Holland and Germany
leading the charge. The Portuguese have reserved 24% of the tickets, not counting those ordered at post offices.
For seven weeks until June 16th, 450,000 tickets
(from a total of 1,200m) will be made available over the Internet and elsewhere for the finals of Euro 2004. The prices of tickets vary between 35 euros and 270. Addressing the home market, FPF president
Gilberto Madaíl appealed to the Portuguese to "not leave everything till the last minute" (a reputation they have).
Some of the main points with respect to tickets are the following:
- There is a
Follow My Team module, where you can reserve a ticket for all the games your team will play in, with the chance to get a refund if they do not play in
all the games foreseen. this can only be booked on the Internet;
- A single person can apply for only four tickets per game, and only one game per day;
for reserving tickets are available on the official site: www.euro2004.com, or at Portuguese post offices, at the FPF offices in Lisbon, at regional association
offices and at the ten stadiums lined up for the tournament;
- If demand outstrips supply, allocation will be by draw;
- Tickets will be delivered at least two weeks before the respective game;
Excess tickets will be sold over the Internet in the autumn of this year;
- You can pay for the tickets by credit card or by bank transfer.
FC Porto's Antas
Stadium (Opening match and semi-final of Euro 2004) will not be completed until October 2003, a month later than expected, Vice-president of the club Angelino Ferreira
said Thursday. The delay is down to problems with access and the fact that work was halted for 32 days last year following a dispute with the City Council. (A Bola On-line)
for Euro 2004 will be on sale on the Internet as from April 28th, UEFA announced in Nyon, Switzerland Wednesday. Internet sales will end on June 16th. Over half a million tickets
will be made available to the general public
Portuguese group Soporcel/Portucel, manufacturers of paper products, and more
specifically their brand of printing paper Navigator, are the latest sponsor of Euro 2004.
Meanwhile, the tournament mascot Kinas is under attack once again, this time by the
Partido Socialista, who said the name: "tramples on the dignity of the Portuguese language and nacional symbols." Kinas is a corruption of the Portuguese Quinas
, the little blue shields on the national flag.
The president of the FPF, Gilberto Madaíl, said Wednesday (to SportTV) that
despite slight delays here and there, everything is on course in terms of preparations for Euro 2004. Meanwhie, Braga City Council has had to extend more money to the builders of the municipal stadium there, which has gone 7.5 % over budget.
Ernie Walker and his UEFA Stadiums Commission
will be returning to Portugal at the end of June for yet an other inspection of the ten stadiums to be used for the finals of Euro 2004.
The official euro2004 mascot Kinas
was presented to the public Saturday. He is different from many mascots of recent euros in that he is supposed to be human and not animal: "He's a little boy who was born in a Portuguese village and who
loves playing football. like any youngster of his age, he's fun and irreverent ..." But Kinas almost didn't see the light of day. The company Swedish Match, owner of
the brand name Quinas, threatened legal action against the use of the name. But it seems the constestation has burnt out ... for now.
The official euro2004 web site
will be launched Saturday, hopefully clarifying some of the confusion existing about information like ticketing. The address is www.euro2004.com.
The Euro 2004 mascot will be officially unveiled at the Portugal v Brazil friendly Saturday. the mascot is called Kinas; the Portuguese team is nicknamed A Selecção das Quinas
(the small blue shields on the Portuguese flag).
The president of the RTRL, a regional tourism organisation, has warned that Aveiro does not have enough hotel beds for the two group games that will be
played in the city. There are currently around 3,000 but Encarnação Dias says that the ideal number would be nearer 16,000.
The Executive Committee of UEFA
, meeting in Rome, said Wednesday that they had received favourable reports on the progress of proparations for the Euro 2004 Championship. 'There is a small delay in one or two stadiums, but that will be
sorted out soon," said Lennart Johansson.
The UEFA Executive Committee will meet next Tuesday and Wednesday in Rome to discuss progress on the Euro 2004
project. There will be a press conference Wednesday to summarise their findings.
The UEFA Stadiums Commission completed its tour of the ten stadiums Friday
with a visit to the Braga municipal stadium. This stadium will be, in the words of the head of the Commission Ernie Walker, "unique in the world". It will have a
capacity of thirty thousand, all seated on two sides of the ground. It is built into the side of a hill, and the rocky end will hold a video screen that will be the largest of its
kind in Europe: 30 metres wide and nine deep. The tour went off without a hitch, except for some doubts being cast over access to the stadiums (roads and
transport). There was one piece of good news in this respect Friday. Valentim Loureiro, in charge of the Porto Metro, confirmed that the 1.2 km stretch of the system from the mainline station of Campanhã
to the Antas stadium will be competed in time for the tournament. The inspectors will be back in June.
The UEFA Stadiums Commission, headed by Scotsman Ernie Walker
, is once again in Portugal to inspect the ten stadiums being built or upgraded. The Estádio do Algarve was first on the list Wednesday, followed by Alvalade and the Luz. So
far Walker seems to be impressed, but has mentioned a worry about access to the stadiums, still a bone of contention between clubs and local councils. Thursday the
Commission visits the stadiums in Leira, Coimbra, Aveiro and the Antas in Porto, then on Friday, the Bessa in Porto, Braga and Guimarães.
of tickets for Euro 2004 can be made on the Internet as from April 28th, it was announced Tuesday. Four hundred thousand tickets will be made
available in the first wave, with people allowed a maximum of four each. (See UEFA site)
Those responsible for the ten stadiums to be used signed contracts Monday ceding the stadiums to UEFA for the duration of the tournament. UEFA will pay a total of 17 million euros
for the use of the stadiums.
The Portuguese were surprised Sunday with the image of José Camacho, Spanish coach of Benfica, being on the front cover of a brochure supposedly
promoting Euro 2004 in Portugal, launched at a trade fair in Berlin.
Sports daily A Bola suggested Friday the number of games to be played in each of
the venues of Euro 2004. The opening game will be at the Antas (FC Porto) on June 16th, the Final at the Luz (Benfica) on July 4th. (See Stadiums)
Ernie Walker and his inspection team will be back to check up on the stadiums
between March 12th and 14th. On the 12th they'll visit the Algarve stadium, the Luz and Alvalade (Lisbon); on March 14th they'll visit Leiria, Coimbra and Aveiro;
and on March 14th, they'll move north to see the antas, Bessa, Guimarães and Braga.
The Portuguese Government are practically sure to suspend the Schengen
agreement for the duration of the tournament. This will mean that the border with Spain will once again be controlled by customs and security officials. Portugal is
preparing to re-recruit 200 border guards for the event. (A Bola)
The draw for the finals of Euro 2004 will take place in the Pavilhão Atlântico in
Lisbon at 11.00 on Sunday, November 30th, 2003. The 'Pavillion', which is on the eastern side of Lisbon, was the centre-piece of the World Fair Expo'98. The final
teams to be qualified will be known after the play-offs of November 16th and 19th.
The official mascot for Euro 2004 will be unveiled at the Portugal v Brazil
friendly, to be played in Oporto on March 29th.
The car make Hyundai has joined the list of official sponsors of the competition
The Parliamentary Commission
that is looking into progress being made on the ten stadiums that will host the Euro 2004 champoinship is worried about access to them, chairman of the Commission Laurentino Dias said Thursday. Of special
concern are the Antas (FC Porto), Bessa (Boavista) and Luz (Benfica) Stadiums. With regard to the latter, there has not even been a protocol signed yet between
club, Lisbon City Council and Government. "At this moment, we need to break the national sprint record to get the protocol signed, the bids for the job in and the
work finished in time for the start of the Championship, which is going to be very, very difficult," said Dias.
The Portuguese government will spend almost 80 million euros
just on access to the ten stadiums being prepared for the competition. Eleven million will be for Benfica's Luz stadium alone, Vasco Lynce, president of Portugal2004, the
company in charge of the local administration of preparations, revealed Wednesday.
Meanwhile, according to the Portuguese news agency Lusa, work on Metro (underground) access to the New Antas
stadium in Oporto can get started relatively shortly if bureaucratic hold-ups are unblocked. If there is not much more delay, the route can be finished by May 2004.
Work to upgrade
Francisco Sá Carneiro, the airport that serves Oporto, will not now be completed in time for Euro 2004, it was revealed Tuesday by the chairman
of the Portuguese Airports Authority. Work to double the airport's capacity from three to six million passengers a year was originally set to end in the middle of
2003, now the end of 2004. The airport is in Maia, 17 kms from Oporto.
The president of the Porto Metro, Valentim Loureiro, who is also president of the
Liga, said Monday that the underground connection between the main station of Campanhã in the south-east of the city and the new Antas Stadium in the east
would only be ready by May of next year, and that only if the Government takes action immediately . The link is thought vital for access to the 52,000-seater Antas,
one of the major stadiums to be used at Euro 2004 - it will hold the opening match and one of the semi-finals.
The Under-17 European Championship, to be held in Viseu and Vila Real in
May, will be used as a dummy run for some of the elements of Euro 2004, namely the question of stewards, volunteers and television coverage. Eurosport will televise
nine games, while Portuguese state channel RTP will cover Portugal's games, the semi-finals and the final.
, president of the Portuguese Football Federation, took advantage of the press conference to announce a new sponsor of Euro 2004 (Galp Energia
) to say that fans will be able to reserve tickets for the competition as from April, although "the sale of the respective tickets will only take place
maybe two months after that." The price of tickets has not yet been fixed, but the suggestion is that it won't exactly be compatible with Portuguese pockets:
"...People have to understand that it's not only the Portuguese that are going to watch the games ... We can't expect very low prices, but we'll try to make them as accessible as possible," Madaíl said.
, the State-run oil and gas company, is the second national sponsor of the competition after the Post Office (CTT). There will be four other national sponsors, yet to be announced.
Euro 2004 has a new sponsor. Mathieu Spreners, a member of the Executive
Committe of UEFA announced in Tokyo Thursday that NTT/VERIO will be lending is name to the tournament. The company is already sponsoring the UEFA Cup Final.
Estádio do Algarve will be inaugurated with a game involving the National Team, FPF president Gilberto Madaíl announced Friday. The exact date and the
oppositon are yet to be revealed, but the stadium is due to be inaugurated any time between June and August of this year.
Lisbon Mayor Pedro Santana Lopes
, former president of Sporting, criticised Wednesday the delay in beginning the campaign to promote Euro 2004: "I think it's surreal what's happened with the promotion of Euro 2004
... At this point, everything should have been done. Germany is already promoting the 2006 World Cup. We should have started in 2001, but c'est le Portugal.".
Former international referee, Vítor Pereria
, who took part in the last World Cup, has been appointed Refereeing Coordinator for Euro 2004. He is currently a member of UEFA's Refereeing Commission.
José Luís Arnaut met separately with the presidents of the Quatro Grandes (Benfica, FC Porto, Sporting and Boavista) Monday to discuss
security procedures that will be needed in and around the stadiums during Euro 2004.
Meanwhile, Boavista made known in a press release their discontent at what they see as favouritism towards FC Porto
by the Porto City Council with respect to land ceded to the clubs for work on their respective stadiums, both of which are to be used during the tournament.
Carlos Cruz, at the helm of Portugal's successful bid for Euro 2004, has been arrested in connection with the nationwide paedophilia scandal involving the Casa Pia
, a chartiable institution for orphans.
Gilberto Madaíl made assurances Wednesday that the cheapest seats during the group games of Euro 2004 would not be as high as suggested by the national daily Diário de Notícias. He promised that the
Class C ticket (after A and B) would cost 35 euros, and not 50. There was some unease after the rumour that tickets would be as high as 50 euros: the minimum salary in Portugal is around 350 euros
, and the spectre of empty stadiums loomed.
Tickets for the group games at Euro 2004 will not cost less than 50 euros, and
will cost more for the opening game and the quarter and semi-finals. Fans will have to find around 250 euros if they want to watch the final. (Diário de Notícias)
Wednesday will mark the beginning of the countdown to Euro 2004, with just 500 days left until the opening game, at the Antas in Oporto. FPF president Gilberto Madaíl
will name the 28 training camps to be used during the tournament.
The first pieces of Euro 2004 merchandise are beginning to appear, including stickers with the competition's slogan: LIVE 4 IT!
Socialist MP Fernando Gomes has expressed worries about the fact that the new aiport that will serve Oporto, Aveiro, Braga and Guimarães (five Euro 2004
stadiums in all) will not be ready in time for the tournament since work on it is already 18 months behind schedule. This will mean that the existing Sá Carneiro airport will have to serve. (A Bola On-line)
UEFA's Gerhard Aigner announced in Nyon, Switzerland Monday that the Euro 2004 tournament will have another sponsor, this time the photography giant Canon
. Other official sponsors are Carlsberg, McDonald's, Coca-Cola and JVC, while the Portuguese postal service CTT is a national partner.
have arranged a loan of 15 million euros to finish off the new Bessa stadium. The loan will be repaid over ten years. The total cost of 40 million euros
will thus be met by 15 million of Boavista's own capital, ten million from the state and these 15 million privately sourced. The new Bessa will be inaugurated in
August to mark the 100th birthday of the club. It is one of the ten stadiums that will be used for Euro 2004.