The National Sport of Serbia is Soccer.
Soccer in Serbia is deeply rooted in history and tradition, bringing together fans from all walks of life.
To learn more about sports culture in Serbia, read our article about the most popular sports in Serbia.
Table of Contents
#1 History of Soccer
- Early 1900s: The foundation of soccer in Serbia began with the formation of clubs such as BSK Belgrade and FK Vojvodina.
- 1919: The first soccer championship in the Kingdom of Serbs, Croats, and Slovenes (later Yugoslavia) was organized, with Serbian clubs participating.
- 1920: The Serbian National Team made its international debut at the 1920 Summer Olympics in Antwerp, Belgium.
- 1941-1945: Soccer activities ceased during World War II, but resurfaced in the post-war years with the re-establishment of the Yugoslav League.
- 1960: The national team won their first major trophy, securing gold at the Rome Olympics.
- 1992: Following the breakup of Yugoslavia, Serbia and Montenegro formed the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia and continued their soccer traditions.
- 2006: Serbia became an independent nation and established its own soccer federation and national team.
#2 Culture and Traditions
Soccer plays a central role in Serbia’s cultural identity, with passionate fans supporting both local clubs and the national team. Club rivalries, particularly between Red Star Belgrade and FK Partizan, manifest in the intense “Eternal Derby,” a spectacle that captures the nation’s attention.
Supporters of Serbian soccer teams are known for their fervor and dedication. Fans create vibrant atmospheres in stadiums, using chants, banners, and flares to express their loyalty. Soccer events in Serbia often transcend sport, symbolizing regional pride and unity.
International tournaments, such as the FIFA World Cup and UEFA European Championship, further fuel Serbian soccer passion. Crowds gather in public spaces to watch and celebrate together, showcasing the sport’s power to unite people across the country.
#3 How it Works: Rules, Gameplay and Equipment
📕 Rules & Gameplay
- Match Duration: A typical game consists of two halves, each lasting 45 minutes, with a 15-minute break in between.
- Objective: The goal of each team is to score by getting the ball into the opposing team’s net.
- Players: Each team has 11 players, including one goalkeeper.
- Offside: An offside is called when a player is closer to the opponent’s goal than both the ball and the second last opponent when the ball is played to them.
- Fouls: Direct and indirect free-kicks and penalty kicks are given for rule violations.
⚙️ Equipment & Gear
- Ball: Round and commonly made of leather or synthetic materials.
- Goalposts: Placed at each end of the field, they are 7.32 meters wide and 2.44 meters high.
- Kits: Distinctive uniforms worn by teams, with goalkeepers dressed in contrasting colors.
- Shin Guards: Protective gear to shield players from potential injury during tackles or collisions.
- Boots: Specialized footwear designed for soccer’s demands.
#4 Modern Development of Soccer
In recent years, Serbia has produced many talented players who have competed at the highest level in major European leagues. The likes of Nemanja Vidic and Dejan Stankovic have become global ambassadors for the sport in Serbia, inspiring the next generation of soccer hopefuls.
Technological advancements such as the use of Video Assistant Referees (VAR) and goal-line technology have influenced the sport worldwide, including Serbia. These innovations better ensure fair play and reduce human error in decision-making by match officials.
Woman’s soccer in Serbia is also experiencing growth, with an increasing number of female players and teams emerging. Although still in development, the expansion of women’s soccer in Serbia highlights the sport’s universal appeal and unifying power.
#5 Soccer and the Olympics
Soccer has held a significant place in the history of the Olympic Games. As part of the former Yugoslavia, Serbia took part in various Olympic soccer competitions, with their crowning achievement being the gold medal in the 1960 Rome Olympics. Since gaining independence, Serbian soccer teams have continued to participate in Olympic events, showcasing their talent and passion on the international stage.
The Olympics have played a crucial role in furthering global recognition of soccer and providing opportunities for players to represent their country. Olympians from Serbia have gone on to gain success in their soccer careers, shining a spotlight on Serbia’s rich soccer culture and development.
#6 Famous Athletes and Achievements
- Nemanja Vidic: A legendary center-back, Vidic captained Manchester United and the Serbian national team, earning numerous awards and accolades throughout his esteemed career.
- Dejan Stankovic: Winning multiple domestic and international titles with Inter Milan, Stankovic also represented Serbia and Montenegro in three World Cups before becoming a key figure for the Serbian national team.
- Dusan Tadic: A skillful midfielder, Tadic has starred for Ajax and the Serbian national team, showcasing his technical brilliance on both the domestic and international stages.
- Sergej Milinkovic-Savic: An influential and versatile player, Milinkovic-Savic shines at Lazio in Italy’s Serie A and represents Serbia with a combination of strength, creativity, and goal-scoring ability.
#7 Where to watch Soccer
- TV Broadcasting and Streaming: Serbian SuperLiga matches and international games featuring Serbian teams are broadcasted on TV stations such as RTS, Sport Klub, and Arena Sport, while services like Eurosport and ESPN showcase European matches and tournaments.
- Notable Stadiums: For a live soccer experience in Serbia, visit iconic venues like the Rajko Mitic Stadium (Red Star Belgrade), Partizan Stadium (FK Partizan), and the Novi Sad Stadium (FK Vojvodina).