Saturday 3 December 2016

Platini slips into town as capital gears up for showpiece final

Published 18/05/2011 | 05:00

Former French international Michel Platini signs autographs for children at the 2011 UEFA Europa League final grassroots tournament in Dublin yesterday
Former French international Michel Platini signs autographs for children at the 2011 UEFA Europa League final grassroots tournament in Dublin yesterday

WHILE all eyes were on Queen Elizabeth yesterday, a football legend slipped into town almost unnoticed.

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But the 28,000 football fans following in his wake today are likely to make their presence more obvious.

UEFA chief and former French star Michel Platini was in Dublin's Irishtown to launch a community soccer league which is sponsored by the football body.

And all 114 children who participated in the league were given free tickets to the Europa League final at Lansdowne Road tonight.

But with free tickets still being handed out yesterday, hopes of a sell-out for the game between Portuguese clubs Porto and Braga are diminishing.

Braga are only bringing 3,000 fans to the biggest game in the club's history.

"We are in a very difficult economic situation. Irish people understand," a club spokesman said.

Nonetheless, a TV audience of about 50 million is expected to watch the match. And those television viewers are in for a treat.

Coverage of the match will be the biggest television event to date in Ireland with 40 cameras worth €75m in place. A total of 54 different international broadcasters will be covering the game; TV3 is the host broadcaster.

And even though there may be some empty seats in the 49,000-capacity stadium, today will still be the busiest day in the history of Dublin Airport as about 28,000 people make their way to the venue.

The traffic at the airport will be bolstered by UEFA officials, foreign press and fans of the two clubs.

It is estimated that up to 80pc of the visitors will fly into Dublin today and leave tonight or tomorrow.

However, the FAI has claimed the match -- the biggest European club game ever played here -- will be worth in the region of €20m to the city.

The airport is expecting 66 chartered flights on top of scheduled flights.

"It will be the most amount of planes ever at Dublin Airport," a spokesperson for the Dublin Airport Authority said.

Yesterday, the final touches were being put to Lansdowne Road which will be named the Dublin Arena for the night as the stadium sponsor -- Aviva -- does not sponsor the Europa League.

Irish Independent

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