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Tuesday 6 December 2016

Millennium Stadium announced as host of 2017 Champions League final

Cardiff's Millennium Stadium will host the 2017 UEFA Champions League final, UEFA's executive committee has announced
Cardiff's Millennium Stadium will host the 2017 UEFA Champions League final, UEFA's executive committee has announced

The Champions League final is coming to Wales for the first time after UEFA announced the Millennium Stadium as host of the 2017 edition.

Despite missing out on matches for Euro 2020, Cardiff has long been reported to be among the frontrunners to host European football's flagship club match.

UEFA's executive committee convened in Prague on Monday to discuss the appointment of club competition final venues in two years' time and decided upon the Millennium Stadium for the Champions League.

The 74,154-capacity stadium will play host to the final on June 3, 2017, with the Women's Champions League finale taking place at the Cardiff City Stadium on June 1.

"We went to Cardiff for the Super Cup last year - the Cardiff City Stadium for Real Madrid against Sevilla," UEFA general secretary Gianni Infantino said.

"Cardiff is certainly a beautiful city but, more importantly, the Millennium Stadium in Cardiff is one of the few stadiums who can host a Champions League final. It has become such a big event.

"We can't go every year to Wembley or to Berlin or whatever, we need to rotate a little bit the European associations.

"It is only deserved that a city like Cardiff and such a historic association of UEFA, the Welsh Football Association, can host the most prestigious club event.

"We're all very looking forward to Cardiff. The stadium has shown it can host big events in the past with the Welsh FA and we are in good contact already.

"I think it is well deserved and we're very much look forward to it."

The news comes with Wales on the verge of qualification for next year's European Championship in France, which would be the country's first major tournament since the 1958 World Cup.

Gareth Bale has been integral to that success and the Real Madrid winger is already dreaming of returning to his home city for the Champions League in 2017.

"These are exciting times for Welsh football," Bale, who won the Super Cup in Cardiff last year, said.

"It feels like the whole country is behind us as we attempt to reach next year's UEFA Euro 2016 finals in France.

"I know how passionate the Welsh football fans are so it's great the UEFA Champions League Final is coming to my home city of Cardiff.

"I loved playing in the UEFA Super Cup last year and it would be fantastic to be involved in front of a packed crowd at such an iconic stadium in 2017."

Those sentiments were echoed by Arsenal midfielder Aaron Ramsey - "it will be a brilliant occasion, I would love to be part of it" - and the Football Association of Wales' chief executive Jonathan Ford.

"Staging major football finals is one of the objectives contained within the FAW's Strategic Plan," Ford said.

"We believe that staging both the 2017 UEFA Champions League Final and 2017 UEFA Women's Champions League Final will have a positive and long-lasting effect on Welsh football.

"Today's announcement is the culmination of two years' of hard work and I'd like to thank all those who've helped the FAW fulfil its ambition of staging a UEFA Champions League Final."

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