The 2013 UEFA Europa League final, awarded to the Amsterdam ArenA by the UEFA Executive Committee on Thursday, will be the second major continental showpiece at the modern home of four-time European champions AFC Ajax.
Royal Netherlands Football Association (KNVB) president Michael van Praag was delighted to see the final coming to Amsterdam. "We put the Amsterdam ArenA forward as a candidate because the stadium will be renovated on a large scale in the next couple of years. It will be a state-of-the-art stadium again. The KNVB has built up a good name in organising international tournaments and matches. With this final we will have the opportunity to show we are able to continue that fine tradition."
Opened on 14 August 1996 with a spectacular ceremony and match between Ajax and AC Milan, the 51,800-seater Amsterdam ArenA came of age when it staged the 1998 UEFA Champions League final, where Real Madrid CF beat Juventus 1-0. It was also a venue for UEFA EURO 2000, playing host to a semi-final among five games.
It was not the first Amsterdam venue to stage major UEFA matches. The Olympisch Stadion, where Ajax played big games prior to the construction of their current home, hosted the 1962 European Champion Clubs' Cup final where SL Benfica beat Madrid 5-3.
The 1977 UEFA Cup Winners' Cup final also took place there, bringing a 2-0 victory for Hamburger SV against RSC Anderlecht, as did the second leg of the 1992 UEFA Cup decider, Ajax holding Torino FC 0-0 to win on away goals. The most recent final in the Netherlands was the 2006 UEFA Cup decider, a 4-0 triumph for Sevilla FC against Middlesbrough FC in Eindhoven.
The 2012 UEFA Europa League final takes place on 9 May at the National Stadium, Bucharest.