TIRANA, Albania ( Associated Press) — Tens of thousands of fans are expected to visit the Albanian capital Tirana for the final of the first Europa Conference League final between Dutch league side Feyenoord and Italy’s Roma on Wednesday.
Tirana airport is getting ready to receive more than 300 flights in two days, the most it has ever had. Other fans intend to arrive in Kosovo and Montenegro and then drive to Tirana.
“Come on, come on,” Albanian Prime Minister and former basketball player Edi Rama said in a message to fans.
Italians, Dutch and other foreigners have been roaming the streets of Tirana in recent days. Nearly 100,000 fans are expected in the city despite only 4,000 tickets being given to clubs for the inaugural European third-tier final, which was designed to give smaller clubs another chance to compete in Europe.
The National Arena has a capacity for 21,000 fans. There are expected to be 650 guards inside the stadium and thousands of police officers outside.
The Albanian authorities have taken some steps to ensure that it is, as they called it, “a public holiday”. They declared Wednesday a holiday, but the police, health personnel and other services will be working.
The first final will be a higher-profile event than UEFA believed when it decided to create the Europa Conference League in 2018. They were looking to give clubs in lower-ranked countries a chance.
In 2023 the final will be at the Eden Arena in Prague, which is even smaller.