MRL gets through to the final
MRL were tasked with managing safety at this year’s UEFA Champions League Final Fans Festival in Rome.
The job fell to Jools Bentley, who with a heavy heart, packed his bags and left for three weeks in Rome in mid-May. “It has to have been one of the most fantastic (no pun intended) experiences of my working career so far”, said Jools. “I love the Champions League as a football fan anyway, so to be involved in such an event was really exciting for me”.
The Fans Festival is based on a partner sponsor hub and a UEFA activity zone, featuring a five a side pitch, UEFA museum, bar and other entertainment. “There was no doubt that this was challenging”, Jools said. “Just before we got onto site, the authorities decided to move the festival to a totally new area – which threw us a bit. We ended up putting the sponsor hub and trophy stage in front of the Arco de Constantine, next to the Colleseo; and that must be one of the most visited spots in Europe anyway”. The rest of the fan zone was located on the other side of the Colleseo in a park which was full, like most of Rome, with historical architecture and ruins. “Our Italian colleagues were quite used to this, but it became a bit nerve wracking at times, trying to build an event on an ancient monument.”
The event was challenging in other ways too: MRL had to liaise with the City Commune, the Carabinieri, Fire Dept and other agencies. “They don’t go in for the multi-agency approach that we are used to in the UK”, said Jools. “The Carabinieri had to deal with the possibility of up to 100,000 fans descending on the city as well as a strike by the Municipal Police to deal with, but eventually they found some time for us and we came to an understanding.” Jools sums it up: “It certainly wasn’t the most straightforward of jobs, but nevertheless, it was really enjoyable and UEFA were great to work with. Who can get bored in Rome anyway? The only thing that could make it better would be for my team to get to the final next year in Madrid.”