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Lenny Kravitz and a Blank Canvas, UEFA Chooses Wembley for Top Events



Wembley Stadium's massive 90,000-seat capacity makes it a prime selection for organizers seeking venues for major sporting events.

It’s 4pm at the bottom of the steps at Wembley Park tube station. Spanish and German fans are experiencing British policing for the first time. It is due to UEFA opening ceremony and Lenny Kravitz performance. Police officers are standing on both sides of a steady stream of fans wearing yellow and white shirts.

These visitors are slowly making their way toward Wembley, full of hope and carrying cans of beer. But their progress soon interrupted.

Welcome to Wembley Park station a steward in an orange high vis jacket announces through her megaphone. This is an alcohol free zone. If you have any alcohol you must throw it away in the bin at the bottom of the stairs.

A father and son wearing Dortmund shirts stopped because they have Heineken beers. They told they can not even finish their open cans and must throw them in the green metal bin. The son has four more cans in a plastic bag and told its okay to keep them as long as they stay closed and he doesn’t drink them. Good luck getting those into the stadium, my friend.


This alcohol ban is the price innocent drinkers must pay for the chaos of July 2021. Back then, England supporters showed once again why they can’t trusted with nice things. The Euro 2020 final saw fans storming the gates, blocking views for wheelchair users, and behaving terribly in front of a global audience.

Most fans here for the Champions League final were smart enough to drink elsewhere beforehand. Those who didn’t know about the restrictions didn’t seem upset or surprised when informed. The police appeared more concerned about ticket scalping than the alcohol ban.

The crowd management before the game was nearly flawless. There one minor bottleneck halfway between the tube station and the stadium arch. But this caused by the Primavera Blanca Real fan group holding an impromptu gathering, not by any infrastructure issues.

In his program notes, Aleksander Čeferin calls Wembley “the cradle of football,” which seems exaggerated and unnecessary. Marketers think this kind of language appeals to football fans. However, most fans don’t like this sentimentality because it suggests that the venue is more important than their team’s result.

UEFA decided to enlist singer-songwriter Lenny Kravitz for a pre-match warm-up performance, temporarily transforming the revered Wembley pitch into a stage for musical entertainment.
UEFA decided to enlist singer-songwriter Lenny Kravitz for a pre-match warm-up performance, temporarily transforming the revered Wembley pitch into a stage for musical entertainment.

Imagine a fan saying, “Hi Robbie, first time caller. It was heartbreaking to lose the Champions League final, and we’ll probably never reach it again, but at least we had a great day out at the Home of Football, Connected by EE.”

Still, you occasionally see a visitor thrilled by their first glimpse of the arch. It’s that meaningful nudge anyone who has pointed out a stadium to their child from a train would recognize. They gesture toward it and say with mild reverence, “Wembley.”

Inside the stadium, you can see why UEFA likes Wembley and Lenny Kravitz. It’s impressive yet plain, making it adaptable for any event. It decided that a performance from Lenny Kravitz should be kickoff before UEFA kickoff. He performed in front of fire-breathing machines and four Pepsi logos for a crowd of hired dancers.

This disrupted what had been a heartfelt build-up, with Dortmund’s fans creating a show of united noise and color unmatched in English football. Was this really improved by a 60-year-old singer with a huge scarf singing “I wish that I could fly / into the sky / so very high / just like a dragonfly”?

Clearly, Wembley still has some issues. There were reports on Sunday about people getting arrested for trying to get in, and having five people run onto the pitch in the first minute doesn’t show a perfect security plan. But even with its problems, there aren’t stories of tear gas or long, awful bus rides without water like what happened in Paris and Istanbul during the last two finals.


For most fans, the worst part about Wembley, as always, is how hard it is to leave. People tired and grumpy as they’re directed away from the stadium in phases, and by the time they reach the tube, any remaining excitement has disappeared. Real Madrid may have won, but everyone feels like a loser standing in a 40-minute line for the Jubilee Line.

This is why UEFA likes Wembley park and Lenny Kravitz. All the happy memories of the final are tied to what happened inside the stadium, where everything can be controlled and timed perfectly. No surprises, much like the final result.