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Developing football in Iceland

The Football Association of Iceland was founded in 1947 and the game has grown steadily.

Ingibjörg Sigurðardóttir and  Natasha Moraa Anasi celebrate an Iceland goal at the  SheBelieves Cup
Ingibjörg Sigurðardóttir and Natasha Moraa Anasi celebrate an Iceland goal at the SheBelieves Cup Getty Images

Overview

The Football Association of Iceland (KSÍ) is striving to strengthen its relationship with affiliated clubs and increase participation at all levels. Numbers of registered players in Iceland have been rising steadily year on year, with attendances at coach education courses also reaching a new high in 2021.

Key challenges for the years ahead include:

  • Balancing the need to develop domestic elite football with the needs of the grassroots game.
  • Supporting players as they look to make the step up from youth to senior national teams.
  • Introducing initiatives and analytics tools to support development at all levels.

A 2021 report on the state of women’s football in Iceland sparked the launch of a number of initiatives linked to the promotion and development of the women's game, including a social media campaign aimed at bringing more women into football as referees, coaches and club officials.

"At the Icelandic FA, we feel an obligation to commit ourselves to the beautiful game of football and do everything we can to continue its development in the future. Football has the power to change the world in so many ways and to make it a better place. We can all play our part, to the best of our abilities."

Klara Bjartmarz, KSÍ general secretary

UEFA support

UEFA’s HatTrick programme, which channels EURO funds into football development across Europe, has helped the KSÍ to improve local footballing facilities, fund grassroots activities and further develop women’s football and participation.

HatTrick funding is also supporting the KSÍ’s construction fund, a long-term project geared toward upgrading footballing infrastructure at Icelandic clubs. The new cycle is supporting eight to ten individual projects a year, including improvements to stadiums, work on mini-pitches and development of spectator facilities.

UEFA’s Football and Social Responsibility schemes have also been helping to spread key messages, with recent initiatives focusing on accessibility awareness and health issues such as the effects of blows to the head on players, and how minor adjustments to training gear and playing attire can transform the experiences of colourblind players and spectators.

Timeline

Association history

1947 The Football Association of Iceland (Knattspyrnusamband Íslands or KSÍ) is founded, and affiliates to FIFA in the same year; football in Iceland previously came under the remit of the Icelandic Sports Federation, which established a national championship in 1912. 1954 The KSÍ is one of the founder members of UEFA. 1957 Laugardalsvöllur Stadium is opened in Reykjavik, becoming the focal point of Icelandic football. 1968 More than 18,000 spectators watch a European Champion Clubs' Cup tie between Valur Reykjavík and Eusébio's SL Benfica at Laugardalsvöllur, a measure of the level of interest in football in Iceland. 1984 One of Iceland’s favourite footballing sons, Ásgeir Sigurvinsson, wins the German Bundesliga title with Stuttgart; having started out at ÍBV Vestmannaeyjar, he played for Standard Liège and Bayern, and then served as Iceland’s sporting director and national team coach after retiring in 1990. 2007 Laugardalsvöllur reopens following extensive renovation with a capacity of just under 10,000. 2009 EIdur Gudjohnsen becomes the first Icelander to get a UEFA Champions League winners medal; he is an unused substitute in Barcelona’s 2-0 win against Manchester United in the final in Rome. 2010 A statue of Icelandic footballing pioneer Albert Guðmundsson is erected outside the KSÍ headquarters; Iceland’s first professional footballer, he played for Arsenal, AC Milan and Nancy in the 1950s, and was later KSÍ president. Present day

 

National team history

1946 Denmark beat Iceland 3-0 in the nation’s first senior international game; their first win comes the following year, 2-0 against Finland in Reykjavik. 1951 ÍA Akranes player Ríkhardur Jónsson scores all four goals as Iceland record a 4-3 win against Sweden – one of the greatest results in the nation’s history. 1967 Iceland reach a notable low point with a 14-2 defeat against Denmark in Copenhagen. 1981 Iceland’s women lose 3-2 to Scotland in Kilmarnock in their first senior international game on 20 September, Bryndís Einarsdóttir and Ásta Gunnlaugsdóttir scoring the goals. 2004 A 2-0 friendly win against Italy in front of a record crowd of 20,204 at Laugardalsvöllur Stadium in Reykjavik is a sign of Iceland’s ongoing improvement. 2009 Iceland’s women make their senior final tournament debut at UEFA Women’s EURO 2009, but are unable to progress beyond the group stage. 2011 Iceland reach the finals of the 2011 UEFA European Under-21 Championship in Denmark, the country's first appearance at a major UEFA men's tournament. 2013 Under coach Lars Lagerbäck, a team full of veterans from the 2011 U21 finals takes part in the 2014 FIFA World Cup play-offs, losing out 2-0 on aggregate to Croatia. The same year, Iceland’s women make it to the EURO quarter-finals. 2016 After some superb performances during the qualifying competition, Iceland make their senior competition debut at UEFA EURO 2016; they steal the show, eliminating England before succumbing to hosts France in the quarter-finals. 2017 Iceland compete in their third successive Women’s EURO, before making it four in a row when they qualify for Women’s EURO 2021. Present day

President

Thorvaldur Örlygsson

Nationality: Icelandic
Date of birth: 2 August 1966
Association president since:
2024

Thorvaldur Örlygsson
Thorvaldur Örlygsson

General secretary

Klara Bjartmarz

Nationality: Icelandic
Date of birth: 3 June 1969
Association general secretary since: 2015

Klara Bjartmarz
Klara Bjartmarz©KSÍ

Football Association of Iceland website