Euro 2004 events – Supporting the fans

IN JUST eight days, Portugal will become the sporting centre of Europe, when it will play host to the Euro 2004 football championship. Local câmaras in the Algarve and foreign councils have been working hard in preparation for the beginning of the tournament. From security to entertainment, every small detail has been carefully planned. It is estimated that more than 1.5 million football fans are expected to travel to Portugal to support the 16 qualifying teams. So what entertainment is there available? The Resident reports.

•Faro Câmara

Since the launch of the Euro 2004 countdown clock in Faro, the câmara has been planning an endless entertainment programme, in an attempt to keep the fans occupied during the football matches. José Vitorino, Faro Câmara president, recently announced that all the entertainment is set to take place at the Jardim Manuel Bivar, Doca de Faro, Parque São Francisco and the Civil Governor’s building, from June 12 to July 4. “We are going to change the Manuel Bivar garden dramatically. It’s going to look great for when the fans arrive,” Vitorino explained.

He also revealed that the food and drink ‘pyramids’ (tents) will be replaced with seating and a big screen, and a special feature for those fans who have arrived without tickets. “About 3,000 square metres of Astroturf will be placed around the big screens and other locations in Faro during the games, so that fans feel like they are actually in the stadium,” he commented. However, little ‘tasca’ bars and mini restaurants will still be available to the general public.

There is also a live music programme, which includes a variety of international (Daniela Mercury, July 4), national (David Fonseca, June 19) and regional concerts (Gonçalo Pescada). The entertainment is expected to kick off at 4pm every day until late and on tournament days at 11am. For more information about entertainment details, turn to the What’s On ‘Coming Soon, Live Concerts’ section, on page 17.

• Loulé Câmara

From June 10 until July 3, Loulé will host a non-stop entertainment programme, including an eclectic mix of concerts, featuring Moroccan and Italian musicians.

The Mediterranean festival, due to take place during Euro 2004, is expected to attract hundreds of fans. Situated at Monumento Eng. Duarte Pacheco, near the Loulé Municipal Park, the festival will have a giant screen, a restaurant area with typical cuisine from each country, and a big stage. Not only is Loulé Câmara preparing for their festival, but it is also putting the finishing touches to its Football Carnival, in which local Algarvean schools and bands are expected to march around the Algarve Stadium on June 12, 20 and 26. “We want to make the Euro 2004 a huge celebration and unite all of the Algarvean regions while doing it,” a câmara spokesperson revealed.

• Portimão Câmara

From now until July 15, EuroParque in Portimão is well equipped for keeping fans occupied during the championship. Complete with a stage, two restaurants and seating for up to 400 people, a big screen and a Pelé Football Park, there is lots for visitors to do. The Football Park has an inflatable five-a-side football pitch, a Human VS Ball Machine and an assault course, which claims to be one of the best training grounds in the area. Pelé Football Parque is open every day from 3pm until 11pm and entrance is one euro per person. Fafá de Belém, Xutos e Pontapés and the chorus and orchestra of the lyrical theatre of Huelva have been confirmed to perform at the park dedicated to the Euro 2004, from June 26 until the 28. For more information about events, check out our What’s On section or call Portimão Câmara on 282 470 832.

• British Council

The British Council have estimated that a possible 50,000 England fans will travel to Portugal to support their team this summer. In an attempt to “change perception and challenge the negative stereotypes of England fans,” a spokesperson said the council will be organising a range of fan-friendly activities. So far, it has organised numerous events throughout Portugal, including the Portugal-England friendly, activities at Jardim Manuel Bivar, a Fan Forum and a visit to the Refúgio Aboim Ascenção.

On June 15, the Council is offering northwest England fans ‘A Day’s Free Labour’, when they get the chance to work with the community on environmental jobs that need doing – such as graffiti removal, painting, gardening and building – all followed by a thank you dinner at the Frangaria restaurant.

“We think it is important to support the majority of England fans who wish to get across positive messages and demonstrate their genuine interest in learning more about other countries and cultures and sharing their passion for football,” the spokesperson explained.

A treasure hunt will also be held for the northwest England fans on June 19. For more information about local activities being organised in the Algarve by the British Council, call Mark Hetherington or Graham Jamieson on 213 214 508.