When Germany hosts the UEFA European Football Championship in the summer of 2024, classic matches such as England vs. Germany will provide the best entertainment. But goals will also be scored between teams like South Tyroleans vs. Roma or Sorbians vs. Frisians – at EUROPEADA, the European Football Championship of the autochthonous national minorities, which will take place from 28 June to 7 July 2024 in the German-Danish borderregion around Flensburg.
Where are the venues? How are the preparations going? And: What are autochthonous minorities? The more than 20 journalists who attended our kickoff press conference for EUROPEADA 2024 on 28 March had many questions – and got detailed answers as well as vivid impressions of what this very special football tournament, which will take place for the fifth time next year, is all about. The conference took place in a hybrid format, so that besides the local and regional press, media representatives from other countries also had the opportunity to participate via live broadcast. Fortunately, this offer was well used: journalists from South Tyrol, the Hungarian minority in Romania, Slovenes in Italy and the Burgenland Croats followed the conference.
"A player once told me: It's the toughest football tournament in the world. Because if you make it to the final, you play six 90-minute football matches in seven days," said project manager Ruwen Möller at the presentation. But there is so much more than "just" football: in addition to the traditional culture day, there is a lot of supporting programme planned to convey the values of EUROPEADA – tolerance, diversity, respect. He described that the preparations are now in full swing: Talks with sports clubs, officials, possible sponsors and accommodation providers are on the agenda. "Registrations are underway and we have initial commitments. My wish is that we double the number of women's teams to eight in contrast to the last edition."
"After two EUROPEADA tournaments in the mountains, the motto now is: 'Rüm hart - klaar Kiming' (Frisian: 'wide heart, clear horizon')," said FUEN Vice President Gösta Toft, for whom the event will be a home game as a member of the German minority in North Schleswig, Denmark. "Between the seas" is also the motto of EUROPEADA, as the venues in northern Schleswig-Holstein and southern Denmark are framed by the North Sea and the Baltic Sea. Toft emphasised from experience that the tournament will create added value for the whole region and will move a lot of positive things. A major goal, he said, is to draw the attention of the majority population to minorities – in this context, the media is an important player.
"All minorities are invited to be part of it," he stressed, pointing out the various possibilities of support that FUEN as well as the hosts have in place.
FUEN Secretary General Eva Pénzes highlighted a special feature of the next EUROPEADA: for the first time, four minorities are behind the tournament, which was initiated by FUEN, as hosts. The Sinti and Roma in Schleswig-Holstein, the Frisians, the German minority in Denmark and the Danish minority in Germany form the quartet of hosts.
The registration of teams for EUROPEADA is open until 1 May.
FUEN is the founder and coordinator of the tournament and organises EUROPEADA together with the local organisers. Previously, the European Minority Football Championship was held in Graubünden/Switzerland (2008), Lausitz/Germany (2012), South Tyrol/Italy (2016) and Carinthia/Koroška, Austria (2022). The tournament is a major sporting event that combines fair competition and the excitement of a sports festival with the matters of the autochthonous, national minorities.
Photocredit: Rasmus Meyer/SSF