What’s The State Of Football In Every European Country?
May 27, 2019
Not since the days of football’s formative years has the sport been this lopsided, this unequal, this unfair. Inequality plagues the European game right now, and after the recent revelations in the NY Times that the Champions League is likely to become a ‘closed shop’, that inequality will only be exacerbated over the coming years.
Europa League 2 has been created in an attempt to keep the small sides of European football happy, but the feeling is it’s just an attempt to keep the minnows at arm’s length while the ‘proper’ football continues at the top.
As more and more money pours into the game, there are so many sections of the footballing world who’ve been forgotten about, seeing zero trickle down effect from the swells of cash within the game. While those at the pinnacle swim in diamonds, those at the grassroots wallow in the mud.
So as we’re exactly a month away from the Preliminary Round of the Europa League and just two days from the Europa League final, we thought it was right to speak to an expert from every single UEFA member association to give us an update on the state of the game in their country, how important Europa League and Champions League participation is to their league, and what they think needs to be done to help out the minnows of European football.
Below are answers from an expert from every single UEFA member association.
“Our football has been down for a period, but it’s beginning to take off again and our football federation have realised that Skenderbeu are the biggest problem in Albanian football.” — Albert Husaj
“Clubs in Andorra have no fans, very few people go to watch the games and no matches are on tv. If one of our teams gets past one round it’s always a success. It feels to me like UEFA just want to make the big teams bigger and keep the small teams in their place. That’s just how they work. They help us a little but it’s not enough.” — Ildefons Lima.
“UCL and UEL matches are necessary for our clubs. As you know for every match they get money and if they win they earn a lot. It’s the best way here to keep the clubs going” — Hrach Khachatryan
“Due to the top club’s inconsistencies over the past few seasons, the Bundesliga has had to rely on other clubs making the most of their European adventures” — Tim Armitage
“Azerbaijani football is clearly developing, and teams are achieving much better results. I believe it’s mainly caused by the country’s wealth development.” — Marcin Fastyn
“Our fans get frustrated when BATE fail to make the Champions League, but playing in the EL is compensation, and if the team advance from the group, everyone’s happy. ” — Sergey Nikolaev
“Belgians are realistic. Ajax’s performances in Europe sometimes make us dream, but we know that our league isn’t among the top in Europe. We like that underdog role.” — Kristof Terreur
Bosnia & Herzegovina
“I think we are one out of 14 European countries that never had a team in a CL or EL group stage. I guess that speaks volumes about the current state of our domestic football. ” — Saša Ibrulj
“Every time a Bulgarian team reaches a European group stage it’s a decent result. And if that team advances from the group stages it’s a massive success. ” — Metodi Shumanov
“Largely thanks to Dinamo’s success in this season, from the 2020/21 season Croatia will have 5 teams in European competitions (that’s half of the league).” — Alex Holiga
“European competitions matter a lot to Cypriot fans and they’ll all definitely prioritise them over domestic competitions. The only exception is APOEL.” — Kyriacos Nicolaou
“There are three clubs that are very strong financially in comparison to the rest of the league. There is very little chance that any other club would make it far in the Europa League. ” — Michal Petrák
“The majority still backs the Danish teams in Europe, whether that’ll be Brøndby or Copenhagen, but the clubs fans don’t. And it’s apparent on social media.” — Claus Røndbjerg
“The sense I get is that the results this season have only confirmed what many feel they know to be true, anyway. That the PL is the best in Europe.” — Greg Johnson
“Football isn’t the main sport in Estonia, so it’s hard to attract kids, sponsors and audience. The affluence in the league games is lower than in even Latvia or Lithuania.” — Pierre-Julien Pera
“I would say that the European games are growing in importance, but they’er played in the holidays and therefore big league games and Cup finals are bigger.” — Tróndur Arge
“HJK very boldly made it their official goal to reach the group stages in Europe next season. They aim to be a ‘big nordic club’ in the future. ” — Tuomas Ylenius
“The EL is taken as seriously as the clubs can. Due to money issues, clubs struggle to build a squad big enough to compete in both the league and the EL. ” — Andrew Gibney
“The enthusiasm witnessed five years ago is gone for good. Bayern & BVB have regressed internationally while clubs such as Leipzig have failed in Europe.” — Tobi from Miasanrot
“I think realistically teams would aim to get out of the preliminary round, and then anything after that would be considered a success for them.” — Daniel Griffin
“Every year we hear about measures and solutions to this scourge but nothing happens. In fact the clubs often blame the police so they can deflect responsibility.” — Johnny Georgopoulos
“Georgian teams have been losing to teams from Armenia, Azerbaijan and Kazakhstan so the new competition won’t really change much.” — Magda Kldiashvili
“Maybe financially there has been no better time in Hungarian football – with help from the government money is flowing freely, but I feel it is not (always) used sensibly.” — Gergely Marosi
“A recent survey showed 80% of chairmen in Iceland consider it very important to qualify for a European campaign in terms of the financial health of the club.” — Tryggvi Kristjánsson
“Ireland’s league structure is quite small and whilst the teams compete readily with each other and obviously rivalries exist, it is quite insular.” — Charles from BP Football
“Playing in European competition creates a huge buzz throughout Israel and also adds spice to the domestic league which we unfortunately didn’t have this year.” — Josh Halickman.
“Astana have set a high bar – now for any Kazakhstan club the season in Europe will be considered successful if it enters the Europa League group stage. As a minimum.” — Alexandr Strelnikov
“All we think about is European football. We’ve been banned for so long and now, just being there, 1st round, 2nd round, it doesn’t matter. We just want to be there. “ — Albert Hashani
“There is a lot of talk each summer about getting in Europa League group stage, but fans mostly understand that it would be a small miracle.” — Agris Suveizda
“Each of our 7 clubs has evolved differently and now play at a very different level. It would not make sense to merge all the clubs and form an independent league.” — Pascal Foser
“The state of our football is mixed. Our league is starting to improve a little bit, though. At least what the European results are showing us.” — Milos Tasic and Dennis Godtfredsen
“”The Luxembourgish clubs still have to deal with a non-professional league which makes it difficult to build a sustainable footing of competitive football.” — Gast Faber
“Well, from European qualification we never really expect anything big – I mean, at this point the fans have abandoned the idea that we can upset someone.” — Gianluca Lia
“European football is a great thing for all clubs and the fans. The level of the league is very low and the fans are happy if they see better players in the European competition.” — Robert Christ
“Every club in Montenegro has one goal: Europe. It’s easy to understand why because with money from UEFA clubs can afford to increase their budget for next season.” — Vlado Perović
“While Ajax and PSV’s performance hardly have been accidents, it’s more of a testament to the strength of those two teams rather than a broader success story.” — Michiel Jongsma
“Given the conditions of our league – awful infrastructure, players not paid on time & lack of quality – it is a miracle that Vardar ever managed to reach the EL group stage.” — Aleksandar Zlateski
“I understand UEFA wants to send out a consistent message to leagues but it is impractical for UEFA to look at the NIPL and hold it to the same standard as the EPL.” — Michael Clarke
“Perhaps we don’t fully appreciate the fact that making the group stages of the Europa league is itself not half bad for teams from a league such as ours.” — Lars Sivertsen
“Everything is being questioned here currently, from the way the league is run, to the way that the clubs are run. It’s a pretty depressing picture.” — Christopher Lash
“Lots of rivalry, among the big 3 at least. Sporting, Porto, Benfica always root for the other team’s opponents. Like celebrating wildly if their rivals lose in Europe.” — Tiago Estêvão
“Expectations are high each year, because we tend to think too much of ourselves. It’s not supported in real life. The lack of strategy and vision from our clubs is at fault.” — Emanuel Roşu
“Things have dropped off for sure. A lot of that is due to financial sanctions imposed by the West on the country following Russia’s policies in the Crimea.” — Manuel Veth
“San Marino players and clubs usually live the European experience as a gift to their daylong commitment, with pleasure, joy and not much pressure.” — Matteo Zanini
“Rangers deserved what they got when they dropped to the bottom tier of Scottish football, but the knock-on effect of that on Scotland’s co-efficient was disastrous.” — Graham Ruthven
“Just qualifying for the EL or CL is a major success and anything else is a bonus. Our clubs do not have the budgets to be regularly competitive at a higher level than that.” — Milos Dusanovic
“Generally, the condition of our football, the league, is quite good. We don’t have extra quality in our clubs, but we have a lot of young and prospective players.” — Jan Jasenka
“Our league is struggling with lack of investment, talent and poor attendance. Maribor’s European success hid that briefly and gave fans a chance to enjoy some European football.” — Miran Zore
“The fear is the next generation of talent hasn’t progressed well, nor is of the level of previous. I think the attitude is different too; the younger players don’t seem as dedicated.” — David Cartlidge
“The Allsvenskan has improved recently thanks to the return of former internationals finishing their careers at home and the return of former talents who didn’t make it abroad.” — Nicholas Chartrain
“As much as it’s been great to see nine of our teams in these competitions recently, there have been many silly results that have prevented the chance of more successful moments.” — Craig King
“The financial gulf between Turkish clubs and the rest of Europe is only likely to grow – innovative restructuring and good fortune is needed if Turkish football is to improve.” — Özer Dindje
“Shakhtar Donetsk and Dynamo Kyiv are the only teams which can compete into European competitions since the decline of Dnipro and Metalist. Other teams are way too irregular.” — Karim Hameg
“The standard of the Welsh league is improving every year and people would like to see that replicated in Europe, and we need them to, to up our coefficient.” — Matthew Burgess
Put this on your site!
Copy and past the below embed code!
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 HungarianFootball.com and over the last few years he's written on a freelance basis for ESPN, WorldSoccer, Goal.com, among many others.