The final of the Champions League is finally taking place in Istanbul in the third attempt. The game comes at a time of crises and challenges for Turkey.
In Istanbul, the anticipation of the final of the Champions League is great. For Turkish football fans it is finally a big game in their home country and thus a distraction from the numerous major crises in their country. But the people of the final hardly have more than pride. However, the people in Turkey will probably only get something from the final itself in front of the television.
Tickets cost up to 690 euros and are hard to come by
Depending on the category, the tickets for the game are 70, 180, 490 or 690 euros. The Atatürk Olympic Stadium is one of the largest in Europe, there are a total of 72,000 tickets for the game, but they are scarce. UEFA distributed almost 25,000 of these to sponsors and VIPs. 40,000 are shared between Manchester City and Inter Milan fans, only 7,200 went on sale at all. So tickets are hard to come by, very expensive even at the original price and, if you’re lucky, you can probably only get them on the black market.
Many people in Turkey are still happy about the game. “We want Turkey to get attention with events like this. We have a colorful culture, Europe doesn’t see that. We have fun here too, there are also good people here.”said a Turkish fan in the WDR5 morning echo.
Inflation is the big problem of people in Turkey
He alluded to the election in the politically torn country. President Recep Tayyip Erdogan won another term as president in a runoff election and will continue to be able to govern autocratically – freedom of expression and the press have been restricted for years. And there are other problems for the people in Turkey: the earthquake disaster in the border area with Syria is having an after-effect for many. In Turkey alone, more than 50,000 people died, many more were injured, and many lost their homes.
The Turkish lira is currently declining significantly in value.
Nationwide, however, inflation is driving many people to despair. The Turkish lira recently reached an all-time low. “Everything now costs 10 or 15 times as much, but salaries have remained low”, said sports journalist Hüseyin Özkök in an interview with the sports show. He will report from the final in Istanbul. “Football will hide the problems for a short time.”
Sports journalist Hüseyin Özkök
Istanbul already had to switch from 2020 to 2021 and 2023
The current Champions League ball bears the lettering “Istanbul 23”. But Istanbul had to wait a long time. Because there have already been balls with “Istanbul 20” and “Istanbul 21”, but these finals did not take place.
The coronavirus pandemic forced UEFA to change plans in 2020, followed by a final tournament in Portugal – Istanbul was then awarded the 2021 final. In 2021, the pandemic was still a dominant issue, again UEFA moved the final to Portugal, this time to Porto. Istanbul was again at a disadvantage and had to switch to the year 2023 – now the time has come.
Three balls, one final – Istanbul had to wait a long time
“It gives me great pleasure to finally be able to say: Welcome to Istanbul”said UEFA President Aleksander Ceferin in a message ahead of the Champions League final on Saturday (June 10, 2023, 9 p.m.).
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First big international Game since 2009
Turkey will now host a big game again after a long time. In 2009, Werder Bremen lost 2-1 to Shakhtar Donetsk in the Europa League final after extra time at the Fenerbahce stadium – the competition was then called the UEFA Cup.
In 2005, one of the biggest finals of the Champions League took place at the Atatürk Olympic Stadium, when Liverpool FC turned a 3-0 deficit against AC Milan into a 3-3 win and won on penalties. In 2019 there was at least the UEFA Supercup between Liverpool and Chelsea at the Besiktas stadium.
Liverpool celebrated the Champions League title in Istanbul in 2005.
Long-term goal EM – Türkiye applies again in 2028 and 2032
In 2008, 2012, 2016, 2020 and 2024 Turkey unsuccessfully applied to host a men’s European Championship. There are already two other attempts: At the EM 2028, Turkey will compete against a joint application from England, Wales, Scotland, Northern Ireland and Ireland. At the EM 2032 Italy is the competitor. UEFA wants to decide on both tournaments in September 2023.