As you probably know the UEFA Champions League Final was in Cardiff last weekend. This was one of the most spectacular events Cardiff has hosted in recent years.
Over the four days, Cardiff was swamped with football fans from all over the world. I had the opportunity to work with Cardiff Met’s Welsh Centre for Tourism Research to speak to fans on the impact of the Champions League finals on Cardiff and Wales.
Over the four days, I chatted to fans from France, Spain and Italy who had followed their team to Cardiff as well as fans who had come all the way from USA, Argentina and Singapore to name a few. It was a good opportunity to practice my very basic French as well as learn a few phrases in Italian such as Ciao, come va and grazie mille!
In my three years studying here in Cardiff, these four days were some of the most exciting I have ever had. Call me biased as a football fan, but I thought the atmosphere was superior to the legendary rugby day in Cardiff; I mean when else are you ever going to see football legend Clarence Seedorf walking down St Mary’s street at 1am in the morning or have a street party with travelling Spanish fans?
The city was filled with legendary sporting personalities and various celebrities. The likes of football legends Ian Rush, Luis Figo and Ryan Giggs were joined by NBA superstar Carmelo Anthony and even the Black-Eyed Peas.
I was very lucky to have the opportunity to attend both the women’s and the men’s finals. Both games were very special for me. The women’s final was the first women’s match I had ever been to, and the men’s final was my first ever Champions League game.
It was amazing to see some of the very best live in person – the likes of Alex Morgan and Cristiane in the women’s game, alongside Buffon, Dybala, Wales’ very own Gareth Bale and arguably the greatest footballer of our generation, Cristiano Ronaldo (Ronaldo over Messi for me!) in the men’s final.
Cardiff was spoken of very highly by travelling fans, and they spoke about the hospitality of the locals and how the intimate size of Cardiff as a city made it easy to travel around – all things I’ve experienced first hand through studying here. It was fantastic to see the city I live and study in put on such an astonishing show.
A lot of people benefitted from having the finals here, from local business to buskers – there was even talk of students putting their rooms on Airbnb for travelling fans. Hopefully it won’t be too long before something like this comes to Cardiff again… Maybe the Commonwealth games next? Let’s keep our fingers crossed!