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The Treaty of Rome and the European Cup


As we are currently celebrating the 60th anniversary of the Treaty of Rome, I'd like to recall that the European Cup was created before the agreement that established the EEC. I'd ask for recognition for football and those pioneers who brought the continent together after that most terrible of wars. And the European Cup didn't start with just six rich Western European countries, but 16 (and soon to be far more) countries of all types: monarchies, republics, dictatorships, capitalist and communist, catholic, protestant and muslim... Winners and losers from the catastrophic conflict, from which the rubble was still being cleared, at the same time as bridges were being rebuilt and train lines repaired.

European Cup brings Europe together

At that time of still nascent aviation, a group of audacious types proposed an incredible tournament that is still with us. The plan was advocated by a newspaper called L'Equipe, who enthusiastically backed the idea of one its most famous journalists: Gabriel Hanot. Between the article in which he proposed the idea, in December 1954, and the first game of the new competition, in September 1955, less than nine months passed. Football people knew how to reach the agreements necessary to make the difficult task a reality. And it's still going, now called the Champions League, alongside its younger sibling, the Europa League, uniting all of Europe. And with no Brexit.

Football for Europe

It's true that the English, of course, dragged their feet at first, and didn't sign up until the second edition, also started before the Treaty of Rome was signed, by the way. But they ended up expelled from Europe for five years due to the barbaric acts of certain Liverpool fans in Heysel, after which they rejoined, determined to remedy their ways. Let nobody see in this article any dismissiveness of the efforts at an entirely different level to repair Europe, for which I am so grateful, rather a simple reminder of what football did and continues to do bringing Europe together. This competition means all of the old continent of Europe has something in common, as well as being its favourite entertainment.

Real Madrid win the first European Cup
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Real Madrid win the first European Cup