The State of Belaursian Club Football

May 21, 2019

Written by:

Vysheyshaya Liga

Founded: 1992

Most Championships: BATE, 15

Last 5 Winners: BATE (18, 17, 16, 15, 14)

UEFA Ranking: 21st

Highest Ranked Club: BATE, 55th

Interview with Sergey Nikolaev from

Since the EL was rebranded, BATE have made the last 32 three times and the Champions League group stage four times. Have the recent years been thought of as successful for BATE in European football?

The last decade, starting from 2008, is seen as overall very successful, particularly the seasons when BATE reached the Champions League Group Phase. However, the last three years have been less successful as the team did not play in the Champions League. But Europa League is also a strong competition, and this season, BATE have done quite a good job by reaching Last 32, so it’s also a success.

Are BATE the outlier in a weak league or are there other sides you expect to do equally as well in Europe over the next few years?

BATE have been an outlier for many years, as no other team could win the Belarusian league after 2005. However, now there is more competition in Belarus, as the teams like Dinamo Brest and Shakhter Soligorsk are eager to end Borisov’s hegemony. But still they are not even close to BATE in terms of European results, and it will be hard for them to be as successful. Maybe Dinamo Brest have a chance, as they have pretty good finances, and they top the Belarusian league at the moment.

Is getting to the last 32 of the Europa League seen as a remarkable achievement back in Belarus or do fans hope for more?

Well I wouldn’t say it’s very remarkable, but it’s still quite an achievement. Our fans get frustrated when BATE fail to qualify for the Champions League Group Phase. However, playing in Europa League is seen as some kind of compensation, and if the team advance from the group, everyone is happy.

Do most of the country get behind the Belarusian side playing in Europe or is there a lot of tribalism still apparent?

It depends. I think some Brest, Soligorsk and Dinamo Minsk support BATE in Europe anyway, but others may be happy when Borisov lose. So there is some tribalism, but overall most of the country stick together and cheer for BATE

How is the Europa League viewed in general by Belarusian fans?

It’s seen as a secondary tournament compared to the Champions League, and BATE can earn considerably less money there – and European income is quite important for the club budget. However, in Europa League BATE can also meet European heavyweights – such as Chelsea and Arsenal in the recent years – and these games are always exciting. Besides, there is a better chance to advance from the group in EL than in CL.

How do you think the Europa League 2 will affect Belarusian EL performances and what has been the reaction to the formation of the competition in Belarus?

There hasn’t been much reaction. Some people question the necessity of this competition. If EL is secondary compared to CL and does not enjoy the same level of interest, EL2 is expected to be even less exciting. However, maybe it’ll give a chance to more Belarusian sides to perform in Europe in autumn.

What would you like to see UEFA do to level the playing field more for small European sides?

It’s a tough one for me. Never thought much of it. UEFA has already done quite a good job, but what can they do if the biggest leagues have much more money than small countries like Belarus? Making a limit on import players as in pre-Bosman times would probably be beneficial, but it’s hardly possible in the present-day world with EU laws. So, hard to say…

Interview with Sergey Nikolaev from

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Author: Tom Mortimer

Tom is the editor at Betting Circle and has been creating online content for over 10 years. Tom mainly writes about sport and gambling, but every now and then also delves into fleshier subjects like politics and psychology. When he was 18 he created and over the last few years he's written on a freelance basis for ESPN, WorldSoccer,, among many others.

Twitter @TMortimerFtbl

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