Albania declare vacation for Europa Conference League final

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TIRANA, Albania (AP) — The Albanian government has declared a public holiday in Tirana next Wednesday when the capital hosts the Europa Conference League final between Roma and Feyenoord.

There will be a zone reserved for pedestrians as part of the measures “to organize in the most exemplary way one of the most important events that have happened in Albania”, Interior Minister Bledi Cuci said on Wednesday. .

Up to 100,000 Italian and Dutch football fans are expected…

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TIRANA, Albania (AP) — The Albanian government has declared a public holiday in Tirana next Wednesday when the capital hosts the Europa Conference League final between Roma and Feyenoord.

There will be a zone reserved for pedestrians as part of the measures “to organize in the most exemplary way one of the most important events that have happened in Albania”, Interior Minister Bledi Cuci said on Wednesday. .

Up to 100,000 Italian and Dutch football fans are expected in Tirana, although each team has received just 4,000 tickets for the inaugural final of Europe’s third-tier club competition.

The capacity of the national arena is only about 20,000 people.

“We are taking all measures to make the day festive for everyone, not just the Italian and Dutch fans,” Cuci said.

UEFA chose Tirana as their hosts in December 2020, a year after the official opening of the new stadium and before any team qualified to participate in the first competition.

The final is a more publicized match than many imagined in 2018 when UEFA decided to create the Europa Conference League. Its aim was to give clubs from lower-ranked countries more opportunities to remain involved in European competitions beyond December.

An even smaller stadium – the Eden Arena in Prague – is set to host the 2023 final.

Roma coach Jose Mourinho has said he is looking forward to visiting Albania for the first time.

“It’s one of the few countries in Europe I’ve never played in,” Mourinho said. “The fact that the stadium is too small for two clubs like Roma and Feyenoord is the only negative point of the match.

“But if it was a 50,000 or 70,000 seat stadium, it would still be small,” Mourinho added. “If we played at (Real Madrid’s Santiago Bernabeu stadium), it would still be small.”

Around 88% of the remaining tickets were bought by Albanian fans and Mourinho said local spectators should support Roma as the team has Albanian defender Marash Kumbulla.

“If Roma win the cup, an Albanian wins the cup, an Albanian lifts the cup in Tirana,” Mourinho said. “That should be more than enough for the Albanian people to support the Roma.”

There are concerns about violence for the game after Feyenoord fans clashed with Italian police and damaged a historic fountain near the Spanish Steps ahead of a Europa League game in Rome in 2015.

UEFA, the Albanian Football Federation and law enforcement have taken precautionary measures to stage the final safely.

Around 650 stewards will be inside the stadium and 2,000 police outside.

“Countries like Albania deserve this opportunity,” Mourinho said. “I remember playing the European Super Cup between Manchester United and Real Madrid in North Macedonia (in 2017) and it was a fantastic event.

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AP Sports Writer Andrew Dampf in Rome contributed to this report.

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More AP soccer: https://apnews.com/hub/soccer and https://twitter.com/AP_Sports

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