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Saturday, 10 June, 2000, 20:32 GMT 21:32 UK
Spectacular opening for Euro 2000
Euro 2000 Opening
An avalanche of balloons in the opening ceremony
After 18 months of preparation, Euro 2000 kicked off amid an avalanche of balloons and colourful displays at the opening ceremony in Brussels.

It was a frenetic, raucous and colourful ceremony in the King Baudouin stadium although it took just 11 minutes to perform.

Man
Football knows no boundaries
Co-hosts Belgium kicked off the eleventh soccer championship against Sweden in the opening match of the of what promises to be a wonderful tournament.

Indeed, it was a short but spectacular launch ceremony which did its best to highlight the tournament's theme of "Football knows no boundaries".

Four thousand white balloons rose into the air from inside Brussels' King Baudouin Stadium, the scene of one of soccer's worst tragedies when 39 fans died before the 1985 European Cup final between Liverpool and Juventus.

Extras

The short play, featuring 179 actors and extras, starred an inflatable giant borne aloft on a bed of mini hovercraft, a huge helium-filled ball and a team of men on stilts personifying dreams and gentleness.


Balloons
Balloons litter the sky
The capital's Grand Place was cordoned off by police closely monitoring both Belgian and Swedish fans who, clad in a bizarre mix of blue and yellow Viking hats and black and red devils' masks, mixed amicably ahead of the game.

A total of 31 matches will be played, with eight teams qualifying from the group stages to compete in the knockout stages.

Stay with BBC Sport Online for the best coverage, including full-time and half-time reports, with comprehensive reviews, pictures and quotes after each game.

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Belgium
Stats for Belgium

Star players

Manager




Euro 2000
Picture gallery from the opening ceremony
See also:

10 Jun 00 | Sportstalk
Are the Belgians to be feared?
10 Jun 00 | Belgium
Belgium kick off with fine win
10 Jun 00 | Belgium
Goor's happy families
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