Champions League final in Cardiff could be under closed roof

Date published: Friday 7th April 2017 4:01

Millennium Stadium: Hosting the 2017 Champions League final

The 2017 Champions League final in Cardiff could be played under a closed roof for the first time.

UEFA will make the decision closer to the June 3 final at the Principality Stadium, local organising committee officials told a Champions League media briefing on Friday.

The roof of the 74,500-capacity stadium has been closed in the past for Wales rugby internationals, but shutting it for European club football’s showpiece event would see UEFA break new ground.

There is, however, a precedent for a major football match being staged indoors as England played Argentina at the 2002 World Cup in Japan at the Sapporo Dome.

“I think most footballers prefer natural conditions, but it is an interesting one,” said the Football Association of Wales’ Alan Hamer, the local organising committee’s project director.

“It is UEFA’s decision, it is their event, and from a purist’s perspective it is what many people would want.

“But having the roof shut would enhance the atmosphere.

“It’s something that we need to speak to UEFA about nearer the time, and at the moment we’ve not been made aware of any decision.

“If we had really poor weather which put the pitch in jeopardy then it’s an obvious decision. But we’ll see what comes out of it.”

More than 170,000 people are expected to arrive in Wales for the June 3 final, with the women’s Champions League final being held at the Cardiff City Stadium two days earlier.

The Principality Stadium will be renamed the National Stadium of Wales for the event as UEFA regulations prevent a commercial title from being used.

A global television audience of 200 million is expected to watch the final, a figure which organisers say is double the size of American Football’s Super Bowl, with the event said to have an economic benefit of £45m to Cardiff and the wider region.

“We are the smallest country to host the Champions League final and it puts us in the shop window for future events,” Hamer said.

“It bodes well for the country forward.”

A free four-day UEFA Champions Festival will be staged in Cardiff Bay from June 1-4 and some of the attractions planned include a floating five-a-side football pitch in the bay, the UEFA Champions Gallery football museum and live musical entertainment.

Should Cardiff deliver a successful 2017 Champions League final, the FAW could bid to host the event again in three years’ time.

Many venues who meet the criteria of staging the Champions League final will be unable to do so that year because of preparations for the 2020 European Championship which will be held throughout the continent rather than in one country.

Planning issues such as transport is complicated because the identity of the two finalists will not be known until May 10 – little more than three weeks before the final.

But police chiefs have promised a rigorous security operation, with 1,500 officers deployed at the event and counter-terrorism measures put in place.

The UK government has given South Wales Police a £1.4m grant to help with security at the Champions League final.

“There will be a ring of steel around the event,” said South Wales Police’s Steve Furnham, the commanding officer at the final.

“Euro 2016-style searches will be replicated. This will include ticket checks, bag checks and personal searches and a barrier system will go out on to local streets.

“The measures put in place have not changed since the recent (terrorist) event at Westminster, but what happened there has focused the mind.”

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