Having fought so hard to get hold of a ticket...
Atlético Madrid president Enrique Cerezo has told AS he could've used another 10,000 tickets for the Champions League final. Real chief Florentino Pérez hasn't honoured me with his thoughts for some time, but I understand he's in the same boat. Many who would've liked to go won't be able to. Faced with a wall behind which tickets are distributed among the connected, the fan on the street has had to fight hard to get one. The clubs have been allocated just over half the capacity, but a healthy handful of those tickets have gone the same way, and many ordinary supporters will naturally be left behind.
It won't serve as much of a consolation, but this isn't a situation as specific to modern football as you might think. I frequently delve into the newspapers of yesteryear and, re-reading those from the days leading up to the first ever European Cup final in Paris - won by Madrid against Stade Reims in 1956 - I found that, of the 38,000 tickets at the Parc des Princes, the organisers kept 14,500 back for government ministries or departments, and for UEFA and French FA connections. All 3,500 Real fans who wanted to go were able to, mind you; but now the demand is so much higher, such liberties are harder to swallow.
My congrats to those who've got one, even if by dint of string-pulling. And a plea, too: let's repeat the commendable behaviour of both sets of supporters in 2014. I imagine many of the same will be going. Two armies of fans travelled along the same motorway, coexisted in Lisbon throughout and returned the way they came without the merest incident. An exemplary spirit of conviviality that was an advert for football and this proud hometown of mine, of which they were representatives. Having had such a hard time getting a ticket, let's make sure everyone shows they're up to that privilege, be it deserved or not.
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