Sunday, October 26, 2008

The Balkans Cup

Reading about slavia sofia's victories in the Balkans Cup (see below) mad me interested in finding out more about this now discontinued cup.

It was started in 1961 for clubs in Albania, Bulgaria, Greece, Romania, Turkey and the former Yugoslavia. Strangely enough it was not taken that seriously by all the clubs at the time, although the also discontinued Balkan Cup, which compromised of the national teams of the aforementioned countries was.

The cup was last played in 1994 when Samsunspor of Turkey beat PAS Giannina of Greece over 2 legs. It was played every year from 1961 to 1994, apart from in 1989 when it was postponed due to the Romanian Revolution.

The most succesful team in the tournament was Beroe Stara Zagora of Bulgaria, who won the trophy 4 times. The first winners were Steagul Rosu Brasov of Romania, who won the competition in the only year that the title was decided by a league rather than a 2 leg knock out format.

The chances of the cup being reinstated seem to be a long way off, due to high political tensions that still prevail and the low interest that existed when the cup was competed for before. I believe that there would be higher interst nowadays, as clubs like Steau Bucharest and Red Star Belgrade, who 15 - 20 years ago were capable of winning th European Cup now can't compete in this competition, but would in a regional league. There have been some calls for it to be reinstated on the Internet with fans of Greek, Turkish and Serbian sides being the most in favour of it, on the other hand it doesn't seem to be popular with Croats who don't see themselves as being from the Balkans and Bosnians, who for obvious reasons have their doubts about the cup's viability.

It is interesting that although a football tournament of this type seems to be a long way off there are already examples of Balkans Cups in, among other sports, squash, hockey and paintball.

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