I had the distinct pleasure of covering the 2016 Champions League final. Having covered the final for the first time last year I was more or less prepared and knew what to expect in terms of how everything worked.
I got to the stadium well in advance at around 15:00. An hour later they held the usual photographers briefing where a representative from UEFA explains how everything will function before, during, and after the match. Once that is completed they begin to give out the photographers bibs. UEFA splits the photographer into 3 groups based on priority. Priority is decided by who you represent and who the teams playing are. So for example a freelance photographer from Spain is given higher priority that a national agency from say Belgium. I was assigned to group 2 and was 11th on the list, which I believe is more or less what I had last year.
I had originally planned on sitting on Real Madrid’s end. However when it came time to select my seat I was not too happy with the places still available. It would have put me too close to the corner flag and I was worried that the linesman would end up being constantly in the way. So I ended up looking at the other end and taking a position in Atletico’s half of the pitch. A decision that ultimately paid off pretty well.
The start of the game this year was a bit different. They added a Super Bowl-esque show before the game. From what they told us in the photographer briefing it seems like there is a good chance this will be a regular part of the final from here on out. I didn’t really care for the performance, and I don’t particularly care for the idea. I see no reason why the Champions League final should copy anything from the Super Bowl. Regardless of wether or not you like the idea of pre-game show I think most will agree that it felt incredibly out of place. Here we are in Milan, Italy with two teams from Madrid, Spain playing you are singing “New York … New Yorkkkk.”
If we are to have a pre-game show then would not be more fitting to have a performance from an artist from the hosting country? Andrea Bocelli, did a short performance after Alicia Keys, and that at least felt more fitting to the setting.