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The Reverse Balkanisation of Football


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Perhaps that should read "Perverse".

Was one of the major flash points on the road to the Yugoslav-Croat war and the resultant mass murder and genocide not a game between Red Star and Dinamo that resulted in running battles both on and off the pitch?

But, hey, I suppose religious and racial intolerance sells........

 

A host of Eastern Europe’s leading clubs have joined forces to unveil plans for a new ‘Balkan League’ which aims to raise the standard of football in the region and create an important new revenue stream.

According to Reuters, the competition would run from September to May with 32 teams competing. There will be eight groups of four teams at the start, followed by knockout rounds. Clubs who fail to make it past the group stages of the UEFA Champions League and Europa League will be allowed to join the new tournament after the New Year. Officials maintain the new competition is designed to run alongside UEFA’s events and the co-operation of European football’s governing body is being sought.

“We have repeatedly discussed the situation and problems in the region and it’s widely recognised that Eastern European football is increasingly lagging behind football in Central and Western Europe,” said Dimitar Borisov, president of CSKA Sofia. “Therefore, our clubs’ access to the UEFA Champions League and the Europa League is very difficult. Only a few teams from the region participate in the group stages of these tournaments and there are limited opportunities for participation in competitive international games for most of the clubs in the region.”

Borisov stated that further meetings will be held with a view to reaching a final agreement within three months. He added that some potential sponsors had already been in contact and were ready to invest in the competition once there was an agreement with UEFA. Vladan Lukic, president of Red Star Belgrade, said: “We don’t want to oppose other European tournaments. On the contrary, the Champions League and the Europa League has always been our priority. We want the new league to be economically stable and with strong sponsors. We would like to find an alternative and help our players and fans being involved in big games throughout the whole year.”

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