IN THE SPOTLIGHT
Fans are encouraged to get involved with numerous #EqualGame activities at the Champions Festival
Football is for everyone is a message of Respect that UEFA has been advocating throughout Europe with its #EqualGame campaign. The campaign brings together elite and grassroots players to demonstrate that football is open to all, irrespective of ethnicity, age, gender, sexual orientation, social background or religious beliefs. #EqualGame and its values will be highlighted in different ways at the UEFA Champions Festival in Madrid.
PUERTA DEL SOL
THURSDAY 30 MAY TO SUNDAY 2 JUNE
In the #EqualGame zone at the Champions Festival, fans can experience at first hand the importance of social inclusion in football. UEFA’s social responsibility partners will engage with fans and visitors by showcasing and explaining their activities. People can win UEFA Champions League prizes, and test their football skills by shooting at an interactive #EqualGame football wall.
AMPUTEE AND BLIND FOOTBALL DEMONSTRATION
FRIDAT 31 MAY
Amputee footballers and #EqualGame ambassadors Barış Telli and Keeley Cerretti will join UEFA President Aleksander Čeferin and two football legends in taking penalties on crutches on the mini-pitch. Mr Čeferin will then take part in a blind football penalty shoot-out.
FOOTBALL FOR ALL ABILITIES MATCHES
THURSDAY 30 MAY – 14:15-16:00
FRIDAY 31 MAY – 13:30-15:00
SUNDAY 2 JUNE – 13:00-17:00
The Champions Festival mini-pitch on the Plaza Mayor in Madrid will be the setting for Football for all Abilities matches, organised under the #EqualGame/Respect banner. The matches will feature, among others, powerchair, blind and amputee football. These demonstrations will show that although people are different, everyone can find common ground in their love of the game.
TOTAL FOOTBALL, TOTAL ACCESS
There are over one billion disabled people living today, the world’s largest minority group. UEFA and CAFE are committed to making live football accessible – we call it Total Football #TotalAccess.
For the 2019 UEFA Champions League final, audio-descriptive commentary is being provided in Spanish and English, giving many partially sighted and blind fans the opportunity to enjoy the match alongside their fellow fans.
CAFE invites disabled fans to share images and feedback on stadiums that they have visited via the CAFE website. Visit www.cafefootball.eu and select Stadiums from the menu to find Estadio Metropolitano or Madrid 2019 and HAVE YOUR SAY on your experiences.
CHAMPIONS WILL RISE
World class ball skills, a global fanbase and the winner lifting the trophy at the Estadio Metropolitano. This, however, is not the UEFA Champions League. For the very first time, UEFA has teamed up with EA SPORTS to launch the inaugural eChampions League, and – like the real-world version – the stakes will be high as the action reaches its climax in Madrid.
Football video games have come a long way since their early days as a blocky imitation of the sport itself. Esports are on the rise and garnering mainstream appeal, with the FIFA video game being among the more accessible.
The eChampions League kicked off with an online qualifier in March to whittle the field down to 64 players who then competed at a live event in Manchester, England, in April. Eight survived to contest the maiden eChampions League finals in Madrid on 31 May.
“Year on year, the standard is getting better and better,” says Marcuzo – real name Marcus Jørgensen – who saw off the much-fancied Nicolas99FC and Finnish star Kossu72 to secure his place. “There are more ranking tournaments, and the players are needing to up their game as a result.”
The Dane will stick to a tried and tested side, with a two-time European Cup winner key to his success. “I have Ruud Gullit in centre midfield,” he says. “He’s always at the heart of my 4-4-2 formation. He can shoot with both feet, he’s strong and he’s fast; those characteristics are important when it comes to selecting your midfield in FIFA. That’s not to say I don’t have a number of current stars in my line-up, with David De Gea, Sergio Ramos, Virgil van Dijk and Ronaldo – my footballing idol – also key players. I’ll be keeping the same team in Madrid.”
Along with the $100,000 prize money, Marcuzo is dreaming of the trophy presentation –
a pitchside ceremony ahead of the UEFA Champions League final itself on 1 June. “I’m now putting in 35 hours a week to make sure I’m in the best condition. I’m sure the standard at the eChampions League finals will reflect what is going to be a really prestigious competition. I can’t wait!”
The EA SPORTS FIFA 19 eChampions League finals will be streamed live at twitch.com/easportsfifa between 13:00–20:00 CET on 31 May. If you miss the action, catch up on the eafifaesports youtube channel
FINAL FIRST FOR VAR
The video assistant referee (VAR) system will be used in a UEFA Champions League final for the first time in Madrid. Incorporated into the Laws of the Game last year, VAR is designed to help referees take correct decisions and has been deployed since the start of the knockout phase. The VAR team for the final in Madrid will comprise a video assistant referee, two assistant video assistant referees and an offside video assistant referee, to support the match referee. The team constantly checks for clear and obvious errors related to the following four match-changing situations: goals, penalty decisions, direct red card incidents and mistaken identity. The VAR team check all match-changing situations, but only intervene for clear and obvious mistakes.
The referee can hold up play while a decision is being reviewed. If the VAR review provides clear evidence for a serious mistake in one of the game-changing situations, the referee can be asked to conduct an on-field review by viewing replay footage in the review area. The final decision can only be taken by the referee. The VAR also takes into account any infringement that could have taken place in the attacking phase of play in the immediate build-up to the incident.
IMAGINE DRAGONS LIVE
Imagine Dragons will perform live at the UEFA Champions League final opening ceremony, presented by Pepsi. The group, known for their smash hits Believer, Radioactive and Thunder, will take to the stage ten minutes before kick-off at the Estadio Metropolitano. Following last year’s stunning performance by Dua Lipa, the hotly anticipated 2019 opening ceremony will feature a level of production never seen before at a UEFA Champions League final, and Imagine Dragons’ lead singer, Dan Reynolds, is looking forward to the occasion: “We’re honoured to be playing the UEFA Champions League final opening ceremony with Pepsi for some of the most passionate sports fans on the planet. It’s going to be a great show in Madrid.” The Grammy Award winners were Spotify’s most-streamed group for 2018.
Yaya Touré and Andrea Pirlo head an all-star cast in the PlayStation F.C. final
Two teams of UEFA Champions League icons and football content creators will go head-to-head in the PlayStation F.C. final at the Estadio Metropolitano – just one day after the UEFA Champions League decider.
PlayStation F.C. All-Stars, led by UEFA Champions League winner Yaya Touré and gaming content creator DjMaRiiO, will take on PlayStation F.C. Ultimate 11, managed by two-time UEFA Champions League winner Andrea Pirlo and captained by football freestyler Lisa Zimouche.
Both captains and managers have been creating their teams from football fans, gaming and football creators, and icons of the UEFA Champions League. And, with the big day nearing, DjMaRiiO can hardly wait. “I’m very, very excited,” he says. “From the day I knew about the PlayStation F.C. final, I knew this would be a once-in-a-lifetime experience.
“Playing in the UEFA Champions League stadium the day after the final is something amazing and I’m sure Yaya Touré will help bring very good vibes to our team. It’s marvellous to be playing a match that thousands of people will be watching from their homes. I think we can win.”
Zimouche, meanwhile, is a former Paris Saint-Germain youth player and she is relishing the opportunity to show off her skills to a worldwide online audience. “This is a great opportunity,” she says. “You don’t get the chance to play on the official Champions League final pitch every day.
“Andrea won the Champions League. He’s a true legend in football, so he’ll give us a good strategy to win. We have a very strong team with people coming from all over the globe. Each has their own strength and I’m sure that, coming together, we’ll make a great team.”
Kick off is on 2 June at 12:00CET. Watch it live on PlayStation’s Youtube channel