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Faroese future in safe hands

Football remains far and away the most popular sport in the Faroe Islands.

Faroese future in safe hands
Faroese future in safe hands ©Getty Images

Football is the most popular sport in the Faroe Islands by a distance. Sporting facilities are dotted around the islands – situated in the Atlantic Ocean between Scotland and Iceland – and the number of men's and women's football matches comfortably outstrips those of any other sport.

The media's coverage of football is also intense. A ten-team Faroe Islands premier division, the Effodeildin, flourishes despite a total population of just 50,000. The top-flight players are all non-professional, though in recent years compensation and reimbursement of expenses has increased. It is also becoming more commonplace for players to transfer between clubs.

The game has certainly come a long way in the Faroe Islands since the first club, Tvoroyrar Boltfelag TB, was established in 1892. Clubs initially played friendlies in an unofficial championship, with home and away matches, depending on the state of the weather and of the generally uneven sand pitches. Indeed, it took 50 years for a national championship to be officially launched in 1942, three years after the formation of the Faroe Islands Sports Association (ISF).

Cup competitions followed in 1955 before the ISF's duties were taken over by the newly formed Faroe Islands Football Association (FSF – Fótbóltssamband Føroya) on 13 January 1979. The FSF's remit has included planning and organising national tournaments, as well as ensuring improved training conditions for coaches, officials and referees. The introduction of artificial turf from 1986 onwards is seen by many as the FSF's single most effective move, as it considerably raised the game's popularity as a participation sport. Today all important matches are played on synthetic grass.

The Faroe Islands became a member of FIFA on 2 July 1988 and joined UEFA on 18 April 1990. Before gaining international recognition, the Faroese national team played occasional matches against representative sides from Shetland, Orkney and Iceland. The team began taking part in UEFA European Championship and FIFA World Cup qualifiers from 1990, and Faroese clubs have also been involved in the UEFA Cup from 1992 and subsequently the qualifying stages of the UEFA Champions League and UEFA Europa League. Furthermore, a number of foreign coaches have been hired to lead the national side, the latest being Denmark's EURO '92-winning captain Lars Olsen.

International membership has also encouraged a steady rise in standards both on and off the pitch – where administration is key. In the 1990s the country's first two grass-pitch stadiums were built, which ultimately enabled more and more Faroese players to try their luck abroad, primarily in Denmark, Iceland and Norway. Yet, to many local fans, the development of youth football is just as important as the top end of the national game. Competitions are run for young players across six separate age groups throughout the islands to make sure the future remains bright.

Clear evidence of the development of the Faroese game was shown with the qualification of the men's U17 team for the European championship finals in Croatia in 2017 - the first-ever time that any national team from the Faroe Islands had qualified for a final tournament, and proving that the path chosen by the association has been the right one. In addition, the women's national team came successfully through the preliminary round in the qualifying competition for the 2019 FIFA Women's World Cup.  


Christian Andreasen

Christian Andreasen
Christian Andreasen©UEFA.com

Nationality: Faroese
Date of birth: 10 December 1959
Association president since: 2010

• A goalkeeper for B68 Toftir's Tofta Ítróttarfelag in his youth, Christian Andreasen studied law at the University of Copenhagen and went into practice back in the Faroe Islands; he has since been on the board of directors of several large companies, often as chairman.

• Elected to the committee of the Faroe Islands Football Association (FSF) for the first time on a two-year mandate in 1986, he worked as a legal advisor to the governing body before returning to the committee in 2002; he was elected president in 2010, and was re-elected for a third term in February 2017.

• During a visit to UEFA headquarters, Andreasen said: "Interest in football in the Faroe Islands is huge. We have a population of 50,000 and 5,000 active football players - 10% of the population; that might be a record. Our goal is to maintain this interest, provide better facilities and try to make our mark in international football."

General secretary

Virgar Hvidbro

Virgar Hvidbro
Virgar Hvidbro©FSF

Nationality: Faroese
Date of birth: 19 April 1968
Association general secretary since: 2010

• Having played for his local club KÍ Klaksvík as a youngster, Virgar Hvidbro graduated in 1995, and worked as a teacher until 2000 when he became head of education and public relations at the Faroese occupational safety & health administration, working there until he joined the Faroe Islands Football Association (FSF) in 2001.

• His main task at the FSF was as head of competitions, as well as developing and implementing the UEFA club licensing system in the Faroe Islands.

• In 2009, he was made provisional general secretary, and was officially appointed to the post on 1 September 2010.