The Albanian government has announced next Wednesday as a public holiday in Tirana, which will host the Europa Conference League final between Roma and Feyenoord.
A pedestrian-only zone will be established as part of efforts “to arrange in the most exemplary way one of the most significant events that have occurred in Albania,” said Interior Minister Bledi Cuci on Wednesday.
Even though each team has only been given 4,000 tickets for the inaugural final of the third-tier European club championship, up to 100,000 Italian and Dutch soccer fans are expected in Tirana.
The National Arena has a capacity of around 20,000 people.
“We’re taking every precaution to make the day happy for everyone, not only Italian and Dutch supporters,” Cuci added.
UEFA chose Tirana as the host city in December 2020, one year after the new stadium opened and before any teams qualified for the first edition.
The final is a higher-profile encounter than many expected when UEFA decided to introduce the Europa Conference League in 2018. Its goal was to provide additional options for clubs from lower-ranked countries to participate in European tournaments beyond December.
The 2023 final will be held at an even smaller arena, the Eden Arena in Prague.
Roma coach Jose Mourinho expressed excitement about his first visit to Albania.
“It’s one of the few European places where I’ve never played,” Mourinho stated. “The only bad aspect of the game is that the stadium is too tiny for two clubs like Roma and Feyenoord.”
“But even if it were 50,000 or 70,000 seats, it would still be little,” Mourinho remarked. “Even if we played at (Real Madrid’s Santiago Bernabeu Stadium), we’d be little.”
Albanian supporters have purchased almost 88 percent of the remaining tickets, and Mourinho has stated that local viewers should support Roma because the roster includes Albania defender Marash Kumbulla.
“If Roma wins, an Albanian wins, and an Albanian raises the cup in Tirana,” Mourinho added. “That should be enough for the Albanian people to support Roma.”
There are fears of violence in the match after Feyenoord fans battled with Italian police and destroyed a historic fountain on the Spanish Steps prior of a Europa League encounter against Roma in 2015.
UEFA, the Albanian soccer organization, and law enforcement officials have taken precautionary measures to ensure the final is held securely.
There will be around 650 stewards inside the stadium and 2,000 police officers outside.
Mourinho stated, “Countries like Albania deserve this opportunity.” “I remember playing in the European Super Cup in North Macedonia (in 2017) between Manchester United and Real Madrid, and it was a tremendous occasion.”