Page last updated at 15:56 GMT, Wednesday, 27 May 2009 16:56 UK

Fans are singing together in Rome

By Tony Livesey
BBC News

Olympic Stadium, Rome
Many Manchester United fans have met at a nearby campsite

BBC News reporter, Tony Livesey describes the ancient city of Rome as it begins to roar with the passion of football fans, all of them wanting their team to be crowned kings of Europe.

The build up to this Champions League final is like none I have seen before.

Being a veteran of such matches, having seen the tension between Manchester United and Chelsea last year, I did not expect to see rival fans singing together.

But, as I walk through the twisting alleyways of Italy's capital, songs from both the mighty reds and the Catalans sweep past me.

Supporters of Barcelona and Manchester United stand opposite each other on one of the many squares dotted across Rome.

But instead of hostility there's a jovial atmosphere and each fan is singing their heart out, merely competing to be the loudest.

Even though many bars across the capital have managed to avoid the "booze ban" by selling beer tokens, the stereotypical drunken football hooligan does not seem to have a place here.

Out on a campsite, aptly named Fergie's Fields, about a mile from the Olympic Stadium there is a beer tent, and a sign erected by a crew of "family-minded" fans, that simply reads: "Utd. Kids. Wife - In that order".

Mosaic for Sir Matt Busby
The mosaic will be held up by fans in the stadium before the match starts

One couple from Gorton in Manchester stand out among all the fans to converge on the city.

Dressed as Julius Caesar and Cleopatra, they tread the ancient cobbles of this beautiful city, making their way to one of the biggest matches in their team's history.

A group called Stretford End Flags has created a homage to Manchester United great, Sir Matt Busby.

On the day after what would have been his 100th birthday, a whole stand of the stadium will be devoted to the supporters' hero.

Each fan holds a piece of card up, when pieced together it declares "For Sir Matt".

I feel that this Champions League final will be one to rival all, and I hope the players do one of the sport's greats proud.



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SEE ALSO
Ferguson seeks place in history
26 May 09 |  Europe
United fans begin Rome journeys
26 May 09 |  Manchester
Rome puts alcohol limits on final
25 May 09 |  Europe
Warning to ticketless United fans
22 May 09 |  Manchester
Henry & Iniesta doubts for final
21 May 09 |  Europe
Man Utd fans given Rome warning
20 May 09 |  Manchester

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