Football in the Republic of Macedonia

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Football is one of the most popular sports in the Republic of Macedonia.[1][2] The country became a member of FIFA in 1994.

The national team has made a few remarkable results in qualifiers for the European Championship as well as the World Cup. The most sensational result was probably the 2-2 draw away against England (October 2002). Two years later the Netherlands were held to a 2–2 draw at home (October 2004). The away-game the following year in Amsterdam also ended with a draw (0–0). On October 7, 2006, once again England was held to a draw in Manchester. On November 17, 2007, Macedonia beat the group winners, Croatia, 2–0.

History[edit]

The beginnings of football in Macedonia date back to the early 20th century. Actually, the first match was played in Skopje on April 20, 1919. It was the selection of the English army composed of the best players among the recruits, against Napredok of Skopje, Napredok would win the match by the score of 2-0. At that place in token of remembrance of the contest, was erected a monument in the form of soccer ball weighing about 250 pounds, because it was the first official soccer match played on the territory of Macedonia. The monument was erected in 1979, to mark the anniversary of 70 years since the start of football in Macedonia.[3]

Since 1909, many clubs have been formed. Prior to First World Wat the region had become part of the Kingdom of Serbia and, as such, became part in 1918 of the Kingdom of Serbs, Croats and Slovenes (renamed to Yugoslavia in 1929). Since 1918 the clubs from the current territory of the Republic of Macedonia had competed in the Yugoslav league system. First they were part of the Belgrade Football Subassociation (1913-1927), and later, in 1927, a separate Skoplje Football Subassociation was formed. The creation of the later made it considerably easier for Macedonian clubs to access Yugoslav First League since the Subassocion leagues functioned as qualifing leagues for the Yugoslav national chmpionship and they avoided the clubs from Belgrade. Gragjanski Skopje became usual participant during the late 1930s in the Yugoslav top ter. By the late 1930s and early 1940s the league system was changed, and Macedonin clubs competed within the Serbian league.

In 1941, with the Second World War already on way, most the region of Vardarska banovina was incorporated into Bulgaria. The football leagues and clubs were restructured and incorporated into Bulgarian league system. The strongest Macedonian clubs competed in the Bulgarian League (1941-1945). During the second World War, the selection of Macedonian clubs played against the selection of the German army, and played matches against Bulgaria. During this period several Macedonian players were selected and played for the Bulgarian national team.

In 1945, at the end of the Second World War, the region was reincorported into Yugoslavia, and SR Macedonia was established as one of the 6 constituent socialist republics of SFR Yugoslavia. The best Macedonian clubs usually competed in the Federal leagues, First and Second Yugoslav leagues, while the Macedonian Republic League was formed to serve as qualifying league for the federal ones. In 1945, after the second World War, a section of the Association of Sports in Skopje with Gustav Vlahov as president, was created. Finally on 14 August 1949, the Macedonian Football Association was formed and was part of the Football Association of Yugoslavia until 1991, when Macedonia declared independence. The first president of the Football Federation of Macedonia was Ljubisav Ivanov - Dzingo. The best Macedonian players were part of the Yugoslav national team.

In 1991 the Republic of Macedonia became an independent sovereign nation. Macedonian clubs abandoned the Yugoslav football league system and created their own league system. The first championship in the Macedonia was organized in the season 1992/93, in which 18 teams participated. Vardar from Skopje was the first champion without a lost match. They would also win the first ever Macedonian Cup. In 1994, Macedonia became a member of FIFA and UEFA after the break-up of SFR Yugoslavia. In 1995, for the first time Macedonian clubs participated in European Cup matches. As champions, FK Vardar played in the UEFA Cup against Hungarian side Békéscsaba and lost 1-2 on aggregate. FK Sileks played in the UEFA Cup Winners' Cup, eliminating Vác Samsung in the first qualifying round before losing to Borussia Mönchengladbach in the next round.

Goran Pandev is a five-time Macedonian player of the year who has spent most of his career in Italy

The national team began its football journey with a 4–1 win against Slovenia in a friendly on 13 October 1993 under coach Andon Dončevski. They went on to win their next two friendlies against Slovenia and Estonia before suffering their first loss against Turkey on 31 August 1994 (before this they lost to Club Atlético Peñarol 0–4 in Montevideo in February 1994). The inaugural Macedonia side featured Darko Pančev, who won the European Champions League with Red Star Belgrade in 1991 and also played for Internazionale in Italy. The Euro 96 Qualifiers was the first major qualifying tournament that Macedonia participated in as an independent nation and they were grouped with Spain, Denmark, Belgium, Cyprus, and Armenia. In their opening game, which was also their first ever official match, Macedonia was drawn against the reigning European Champions Denmark. The game was played at the City Stadium in Skopje on 7 September 1994 and it finished 1–1 (the first goal was scored by Mitko Stojkovski) with Macedonia leading for most of the game after scoring in the fourth minute. Since then, Macedonia has been participating in all FIFA and UEFA sanctioned qualifying tournaments.

League system[edit]

Level

League(s)/Division(s)

1

1. MFL
10 clubs

2

2. MFL
10 clubs

3

3. MFL
58 clubs divided in 5 series, four of 12 clubs and one of 10 clubs

4

4. MFL
15 Regional Leagues

References[edit]

  1. ^ "Macedonians - Introduction, Location, Language, Folklore, Religion, Major holidays, Rites of passage, Relationships, Living conditions". Everyculture.com. 1991-09-08. Retrieved 2014-04-12. 
  2. ^ "101 Facts on Macedonia". EURM. Retrieved 2014-04-12. 
  3. ^ "ФФМ" (in Macedonian). Ffm.com.mk. Retrieved 2014-04-13. 

External links[edit]