We firmly believe that sport is Serbia´s most important brand.
On the pyramid of sports Serbia most of the times points out those that are globally recognized and appreciated, but almost every national sport association is rich with international medals and trophies. We will say that we are “land of basketball” and that we “live” for a football success, but our sport sociology is really versatile and diverse.
This pluralism and leaning toward different sport in Serbia could be also seen through organization of biggest sport event, which is something that Belgrade is known for and considered to be a reliable host.
History of sport in the Capital of Serbia was written on various surfaces. Grass, concrete, wood, swimming pool, tatami, matte, racing track, clay and even street asphalt.
Capitol of former Kingdom of Yugoslavia hosted the last automotive race before the beginning of the World War II in 1939 – “Belgrade Grand Prix”. First and only Formula 1 race in our country took place on the track around Kalemegdan fortress.
Belgrade in 1950s earns the opportunity to host major sport events. First event, in 1953, was World Bowling Championship for men and women.
A year after we organized for the first time a championship in a sport that made us famous all around the world.
Great thanks goes to the greats that made me who I am, a symbol for your joy, history, life. I am the reason why you are appreciated, why others admire you, why everyone around the world ask and try to find out – what is your secret? I deserve to be right here in this city, more than anywhere else in the world.
If the sculpture made in the honor of BASKETBALL ever learned how to speak, this would probably be its first words. Monument raised in front of the north entrance to Belgrade Arena, represents the permanent testimony of a great tradition and welcomes every stranger with popular greeting – THIS IS A LAND OF BELGRADE
Our Men national team won Olympic gold medal in 1980, is three times World Champion and five times European Champion. Today, they are ruling vice-champions from Olympic Games, World and European Championship. Women national team of former Yugoslavia has silver medals from every major competition, and Serbia won the gold medal at the European Championship in 2015.
In short, we put the biggest successes of Serbia´s basketball. Enough to understand why Belgrade is the only city in the world that has a monument dedicated to this game.
Among the most significant representatives of basketball culture, our country had to be a respected host of major sport events.
Fourth European Basketball Championship for women was organized in Belgrade in 1954, and in the beginning of 1960s basketball seed start to grow, when Belgrade hosted the 12th European Basketball Championship for men.
Belgrade Fair halls in 1961 were filled with people cheering for the team lead by the coach Aleksandar Nikolić, and on the field by Radivoj Korać. Yugoslavia reached the final and Radivoj, known by his nickname “Žućko”, couldn´t stop the Soviet Union that reached their fifth European Champions title.
What was not achieved by Radivoj Korać and his teammates, achieved a new generation 12 years after. Ćosić, Dalipagić, Kićanović, Slavnić, Šolman and others made Yugoslavia Champions of Europe in Spain. Same team, even stronger with Mirza Delibašić, defended the title.
Hala Pionir hosted the tournament in 1975. With five victories in the league system Yugoslavia came to the second European Championship title.
Five years later Belgrade hosted best women national teams in another European Championships.
New era of organizing sport events started in 2004 when Belgrade Arena was built – multi-sport and music object.
First event ever organized in the modern sport facility in Belgrade was FIBA “Diamond Ball” tournament, when our country played as the ruling World Champions.
Year after Belgrade hosted its third European Basketball Championship for men. Serbia nad Montenegro was eliminated in the Playoffs which was a big disappointment for the basketball public.
On 25th of September 2005, In front of 20 000 people in Belgrade arena, Greece won against Germany and became European Champions for the second time in their history. But, Belgrade was enchanted by Dirk Nowitzki who earned respect of basketball lovers in Serbia, and was crowned as the Tournament MVP.
On May 2018 Belgrade Arena hosted the Euroleague Final Four tournament. Real Madrid became champions of Europe for the 10th time and 19 year old Luka Dončić showed that he will be the future of the game.
From June 27 to July 7 2019 Belgrade will be one of four host cities for the 37th edition of European Basketball Championship for women
In the phenomenon called football, because it transcended the sport status, Belgrade was the center of attention only twice and it happened more than 40 years ago.
A decade after the biggest sport venue in Serbia was opened, FC Red Star was the place where the European Club Champion was decided, at the UEFA competition known at time as European Champions Cup.
Football remembers a couple of dynasties, and one those was surely Ajax team from the 1970s. One of the football´s greatest players Johan Cruyff and his teammates reached their apex on June 30 1973 in Belgrade against Juventus.
Only goal seen at “Marakana” stadium that day was scored in the fifth minute when Johnny Rep lobbed Dino Zoff with a header. It will stay remembered that the Capitol city of Serbia is a place where the last act of Ajax ruling played, because then they won their third consecutive Champions Cup trophy.
Three years later Belgrade and Zagreb both hosted four teams that contended in the fifth European Football Championship title.
Zinedine Zidan, Zlatan Ibrahimović, Andrea Pirlo and Francesco Totti are just a couple of football greats that became famous by shooting the penalty kick – PANENKA way.
Perhaps you didn´t know that this well familiar lob from the penalty kick spot was named after a guy who did it the first time at the “Marakana” stadium on June 20, 1976 in the European Championship final in Belgrade.
Antonín Panenka will stay remembered in history not only as the that lead Czechoslovakia to their only European Champions title, but who did the revolutionary penalty kick in the fifth series against Western Germany. More than four decades after people still shoot Panenka style penalty kicks (successfully or not).
It should be pointed out that UEFA often organize tournaments for youth categories for man and women.
First ever World Water Polo Championship was held in Belgrade in 1973 and the Yugoslavia national won their first medal – a bronze one.
After two European Championship title, under the name Yugoslavia and Serbia and Montenegro, our water polo players in Belgrade won their third consecutive gold medal in 2006 at the Tašmajdan swimming pool.
Decade later the same competition was held in Belgrade Arena, and for the first time 16 National Teams participated in both men and women competition. Men´s final broke the attendance record because more than 16 000 people watched the game. Filipović, Prlainović, Gocić, Nikić, Pjetlović and others again won the gold medal while being the hosts, after winning against Montenegro in the final match.
Less than a month after the water polo championship, Belgrade Arena surface for the European Futsal Championship was installed.
One the most spectacular volleyball moves was performed by Vanja Grbić in the Olympic Games final in Sydney 2000, when Yugoslavia won the gold medal. Women´s National Volleyball Team are the ruling Champions of the World and Europe. Mr. Aleksandar Boričić is the vice-president of the FIVB which is the International Sport Association with the most member associations worldwide.
These are just one of the facts that make volleyball a “sport plant” with roots deep in the sport culture of Serbia.
Biggest turnaround for volleyball in Serbia happened at the beginning of the 21st century, because before that the only competition organized in Belgrade was the 1975 European Championship for women when Yugoslavia won the bronze medal.
In September 2005 Belgrade and Rome co-hosted the organization of European Championship for men.
Earlier that year, biggest sports venue in Belgrade was hosting the Volleyball World League final tournament, when Brazil won the gold beating Serbia national team in the final. The scenario happened again in 2009 when Serbia hosted best national teams one more time.
October 2011 was the month when Serbia´s national women team won against Germany in the Pionir Hall and were crowned European Champions for the first time.
Yugoslav handball was at its peek in the 1970s and the most successful as well.
Men´s national team won the first place at the 1972 Olympic Games in Munich. This result has the additional weight because it was the year when handball was introduced to the family of Olympic sports.
Women´s national team won gold at the 1973 World Handball Championship in Belgrade, beating Romania in the final game.
Only three major handball competition were organized recently.
Men´s European Handball Championship was held in 2012 in Serbia. “Eagles” of Serbia won the silver medal in the packed Belgrade Arena after losing against Denmark in the final.
Same year in December Belgrade hosted best women national teams at the European Handball Championship and the World Championship for women in December 2013 were both organized in Serbia. Our women national team made a historic success by winning a silver medal at the World Championship losing a evenly matched final against Brazil.
From 2004 lower ranked tennis tournaments are organized in Serbia and 2009 Belgrade got its ATP 250 Series tournament –Serbian Open, thanks to the popularity of Novak Đoković. The tournament had only four editions.
Most important event in the Serbian tennis history was the Davis Cup final held in the Belgrade Arena. Đoković, Zimonjić, Troicki and Tipsarević won the trophy by winning against France in the finals.
A year after the Indoor Athletic Hall opened in March 2016 Capitol of Serbia hosted the best European athletes.
Belgrade Arena hosted 34th European Indoor Athletics Championship with 525 athletes from 48 countries
Crowd had the chance to enjoy skills and achievements of Ivana Španović, Katerina Stefanidi, Laura Muir, Kevin Mayer, Pavel Maslak and other stars of European athletics.
Once again the functionality of the most significant sport venue in Belgrade came to notion, as it was perfectly adapted for the indoor athletics championship.
Only small number of cities lik Belgrade, can say that they have an artificial lake five kilometers from the city center.
Ada Ciganlija many times served as a perfect racing track. First major event organized there was World Kayak and Kanu Championship in 1982 and European Championships were organized twice, in 2011 and 2018.
Belgrade also hosted European Rowing Championship in 2014.
There is a long tradition of hosting major International Combat Sports competition in Belgrade. Among the most significant competitions are World Judo Championship in 1989, European Judo Championship in 1986 and 2007, European Wrestling Championship in 2012, World Boxing Championship in 1978, “Galeb” Taekwondo tournament…
Back in 1988 Belgrade organizes its first marathon which became a tradition and repeats each spring. From then on more than 100 000 marathon runners from all around the world ran the streets of Belgrade. During NATO bombing in 1999 Belgrade Marathon became the first of its kind to be organize during a state of war.
Belgrade was twice a candidate for the organization for Summer Olympic Games back in the 1980s (candidature for 1992 and 1996 Olympics). A lot was invested for the first candidature as well as the plans for the Olympic village at Novi Beograd and logo of the Games.
More than 1400 registered clubs, around 68 000 athletes, among which there are around 18 000 women athletes and close to 50 000 youth athletes practice sport in the City of Belgrade.
Famous French football coach Arsene Wenger recently got LAUREUS life´s work award and in Belgrade he had one his last away matches as the manager of Arsenal, outside England.
Before his match with Red Star in the EUFA Europa League group phase match in December 2017 he mentioned that it is hard to play against any Serbia club because, as he said “THIS IS A NATION WITH STRONG SPORTS CULTURE”.
While searching for its identity, Belgrade recognizes itself in the statement of the famous manager. Serbia, as one of the most recognized sport nations in the world, in its capital, carefully nurtures the sports culture for almost a century, and Belgrade became also a well-known shelter for international sport as well.