Champions League Final at Olimpiyskiy: what it was like

A year ago, on May 26, 2018, a historic event for Ukraine happened. The eyes of whole the football football world were on the NSC Olimpiyskiy - the arena that hosted the Champions League final. Thousands of fans in the stands and millions of viewers saw a spectacular match full of drama and absolute happiness.

But the preparation for the final was no less interesting than the final itself.

The Olimpiyskiy team, which was involved in the creation of this football festival, remembers how it was.

Valentin Gruzdev, General Director, works for the NSC Olimpiyskiy since 2014
- I am happy that Olimpiyskiy managed to meet this monumental challenge successfully. The whole stadium team worked as a one well-oiled machine to make Kyiv final a part of the whole football world history.

I am grateful to everyone for efforts, dedication and professionalism. We are proud to pass the baton to Madrid and are happy that Ukrainians will become part of a big final again, as the Ukrainian band Asturia will perform the Champions League anthem before the game.

It was an invaluable experience for us! And it made me convinced again that NSC Olimpiyskiy is ready to host large-scale sports and cultural events of the world level

Maxym Stelmakh, Head grass keeper, works for the NSC Olimpiyskiy since 2011
- We had hour-by-hour planned schedule 10 days before the final . And the last several days were scheduled minute-by-minute! I was surprised by the work approach of the UEFA representatives. They listened for our opinion and made a compromise. For example, at our request, the time of the opening ceremony rehearsal was postponed from noon to evening time when there was no direct sunlight in the bowl.

We received new knowledge during the preparation period. It is interesting that there is a kind of grass in the Olimpiyskiy pitch that forms ear and gives spotting. But the pitch have to look perfect! To overcome it, you need to perform almost a real surgery! But together with the UEFA team, we were able to clearly pick up special preparations and how to use them in order to easily cope with this task.

We also increased the team of agronomists. Normally 7 people are responsible for the state of the pitch and to prepare for the final we invited five more specialists who worked during Euro 2012 and who work in different football clubs in Ukraine and Europe.

Sergiy Gnatenko, Head of the Department for Work with Sports Organizations, works for the NSC Olimpiyskiy since 2011
- I have never seen so many people responsible for the players' zone: changing rooms, a tunnel, etc. The most important thing for UEFA is the teams and their comfort, therefore about ten people worked with them. I was surprised that there was a separate position - Pitch Manager - a person who was responsible for everything that happened in the stadium bowl: for pitch preparation, its functional state and quality, for warm-up zones, cleanliness, etc.

There was not the little things for the UEFA team. Everyone, including top managers, paid attention and checked the smallest details. At the stadium, the benches are covered with a special canopy that protects players and coaches from the weather, or from objects that can be thrown from the stands. The benches are located just in front of the stands, where the places for players who are not included in the squad list, as well as for members of official delegations or representatives of sponsors are reserved. In order to get better visibility for audience the UEFA changed that canopies - they were made much smaller.

Volodymyr Bugay, Deputy Head of the Event Management Department, works for NSC Olimpiyskiy since 2014
We were provided with 48-page Manual where each detail of preparation for the match like safety, equipment for the sky boxes, all visualization was described. It was very comfortable. You didn’t have to ask your colleagues, but you open the document and you get all the instructions.

I was pleasantly surprised by the friendly atmosphere and the attitude of colleagues from the UEFA even when we had consultative meetings three times a day.

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