Turkish federation say logistical lessons learned for Istanbul's Champions League final

Kiev (AFP) –


Istanbul?s Champions League final in 2020 will not be dogged by the logistical nightmare that confronted supporters trying to get to Kiev for UEFA?s showpiece event this weekend, insists Servet Yardimci, vice-president of the Turkish Football Federation.

However, Yardimci, who also sits on UEFA's Executive Committee, said that lessons have been learned from the city?s own experience of hosting the final in 2005.

Liverpool were victors in the Turkish capital in 2005 after completing the greatest comeback in Champions League final history to beat AC Milan on penalties after trailing 3-0 at half-time.

However, many fans missed kick-off due to log jammed roads on what was then the sole connection between the city centre and the 76,000 capacity Olympic Ataturk Stadium, 14 kilometres south, whilst supporters also complained of prohibitively expensive flight prices.

The stadium had only been completed months earlier, and Yardimci admits the infrastructure wasn?t then in place to handle an event of that scale.

However, he believes the opening of a new Istanbul airport, planned to be the biggest in the world, later this year makes Istanbul a prime location for the demands of hosting a Champions League final.

?In 2005 it was probably too early to have hosted that final. The stadium was completed and immediately after when this final took place we had some hiccups for the supporters to get to the stadium in time," Yardimci told AFP.

"Today in terms of accommodations and connections, airports, roads, railways and underground are in place and there will be no problem whatsoever in terms of logistics. It will be a fantastic venue.?

- 'New market' -

Unlike Kiev, Istanbul was awarded the Champions League final after beating out Lisbon in a formal bidding process where guarantees have to be made over the hotel and airport capacity of cities to handle the influx of fans, media and delegates for the biggest game in club football.

Supporters in the Ukrainian capital faced price hikes of up to 100 times their normal value for hotels, whilst some Liverpool fans were left stranded after the travel company they booked with failed to secure landing spots at one of Kiev?s two airports.

Istanbul will also host the UEFA Super Cup final in 2019 and Turkey hopes to host a major international football tournament for the first time by winning the right to host the European championships in 2024.

Turkey missed out on Euro 2016 to France and declined to bid for Euro 2020, which will take place in 12 cities spread across the continent, due to an ultimately failed attempt to host the 2020 Olympics in Istanbul.

Their latest bid faces fierce competition from a German bid that will be seen as a safer option due to Turkey's political turmoil in recent years.

A state of emergency was introduced following an attempted coup in July 2016 to depose president Recep Tayyip Erdogan and more than 1,300 associations and foundations have been shut down under the measures.

"We cannot change this negative perception Turkey has outside of Turkey, but politically Turkey is very stable, very consistent," insisted Yardimci.

"Turkey is a new market, new territory to UEFA. Istanbul is a so well-connected city, there are a billion people living in 43 countries less than four hours away.

"It is a unique opportunity for UEFA not to miss to explore new markets."