The State of Sammarinese Club Football

May 27, 2019

Written by:

Campionato Sammarinese di Calcio

Founded: 1985

Most Championships: Tre Fiori, 7

Last 5 Winners: Tre Penne (18/19, 15/16), La Fiorita (17/18, 16/17), Folgore Faciano (14/15)

UEFA Ranking: 55th

Highest Ranked Club: La Fiorita, 316th

Interview with Football Manager’s San Marino head researcher Matteo Zanini

As a minnow of European Football, what do San Marino fans and teams expect from their European campaigns and what would qualify as a success?

As an amateur entity in a professional world, San Marino players and clubs usually live the European experience as a gift to their daylong commitment, with pleasure, joy and not much pressure.

Everyone involved in competitions wants – of course – to succeed, but they are aware of their underdog status and usually taking part in this experience is already a satisfying goal.

Year by year, the level is growing a little, and now with some good results (first goals scored, Tre Penne’s first win, Tre Fiori overcoming the first round) they are setting more competitive goals, always depending on the rivals’ level.

So, for some teams against difficult opponents, it could be just a goal, for others, in more challenging matches, could be a draw in the home leg. Winning is always the dream, but often they’re quite realistic considering the strengths of what they’re up against.

How much do the fans and teams look forward to European competition?

San Marino clubs usually don’t have a proper organized fanbase, with most of the populace following and cheering for Italian clubs.

The clubs usually knew their destiny at the end of May (play-off stage of domestic league) and only then do they start thinking about their European adventure which takes part about a month later.

It’s a short time to prepare everything (players only a small break, staff must look for some good signings to improve the roster). The days are so intense that they’re no much time to feel the pressure of the match. Anyway, after the matches, everyone involved is very satisfied for the experience and the opportunity.

Is funding ever a problem for San Marino sides in European competition in regards getting to and from away games?

The logistic part is an issue, but not in a financial sense. The FA is usually granted some money that they received from UEFA to clubs to cover the expenses.

As clubs have no other fixed costs over the year (pitches are state-owned and provided for free, enrolling taxes are small, etc), all the extra money they can provide from sponsorships is invested in the roster.

Players are not professional, but can receive a small amount, officially, to cover their own expenses.

Is a Champions League / Europa League game involving a San Marino side watched by most of the nation?

Football is one of the most followed sport in the nation (along with motor racing), but most of people follow first an Italian club rather than their local Sammarinese team.

Domestic matches are followed by a very small group of fans and people linked to the clubs, with numbers growing up for domestic finals, national team matches, and European competitions (800-1000 attendance). TV attendance is similar, making the event followed by a few thousand of people, great numbers for a small nation but still not “most of”.

Do you think UEFA are doing enough to help the minnows of European football and what can they do to further help them?

I think UEFA are doing a good job in supporting minnows football, especially financially. San Marino’s FA balance brings in millions, a great amount of money for a 30,000 people nation.

The issue is how the nations spend this money: it’s a fresh news that Andorra FA chairman resigned after a funding scandal.

San Marino, over the last years, has invested the money in artificial pitches, in supporting the clubs and now in women football. I think UEFA, to avoid problems, should check better where this money is spent, linking them to specific subjects, like youth football. It would be great these little nations would be able to create a first generation of (semi) professional players too, to gradually improve their level.

Interview with Football Manager’s San Marino head researcher Matteo Zanini

Find all your Champions League betting odds here

A Europa League infographic

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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