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Luxembourg look to the future

Efforts are being made to cement the already solid football foundations in Luxembourg.

Luxembourg look to the future
Luxembourg look to the future ©AFP/Getty Images

Luxembourg's first club, CS Fola Esch Football and Lawn Tennis Club, was founded on 9 December 1906. Two years later there were 13 teams and a federation to look after them. An official national championship duly followed, with 26 sides involved in the inaugural edition in 1909/10. Racing Club Luxembourg – now Racing FC Union Lëtzebuerg – took the honours to mark the game's arrival in the Grand Duchy. Now the Fédération Luxembourgeoise de Football (FLF) boasts 109 affiliated clubs and more than 32,000 licensed members.

Luxembourg gained FIFA membership in 1910, and on 29 October 1911 the national team played their first official match against France. The encounter ended in a 4-1 defeat for the visitors. Yet revenge was sweet: Luxembourg overcame the same opponents 5-4 in the sequel on 8 February 1914. Participation at the 1920 Olympics in Antwerp, concluding in a 3-0 loss to the Netherlands, was another early highlight.

In 1930 the national association acquired its current name, FLF, and the sport began to enjoy a tremendous surge in popularity. The number of sides grew rapidly, and youngsters were encouraged to take up the game. The Luxembourg Cup had already been established, in 1922, with Racing Club – 2-0 victors over AS Jeunesse Esch – again the first winners. Inevitably, the Second World War slowed down football's development but did not put a stop to it.

In September 1951, the FLF acquired its own premises which would house the federation headquarters until February 2002. Three years later the association joined the newly formed European governing body, UEFA, and promptly CA Spora Luxembourg, in 1956, became the country's first representative in the European Champion Clubs' Cup. Since then, Luxembourg's clubs have featured regularly in continental competition, with the national team doing likewise in qualifying for UEFA European Championships and FIFA World Cups.

The highlight for the national side remains their performance in the 1964 UEFA European Championship. Luxembourg eliminated the Netherlands in the round of 16 and just missed out on the semi-finals: the team drew with Denmark home and away in their quarter-final – 5-5 on aggregate – yet lost 1-0 in a replay held in neutral Amsterdam. Luxembourg have proved a stumbling block for more fancied teams, beating Turkey 2-0 in a 1974 World Cup qualifying match and overcoming the Czech Republic 1-0 in a EURO '96 qualifier.

Most recently, on 10 September 2008, they surprised Switzerland by recording a 2-1 victory in a World Cup qualifying tie in Zurich. Much has been accomplished, but the forward planning never ends. In 2000/01 the FLF opened a centre of excellence for forming young players in Mondercange. The federation headquarters were then completely relocated, in June 2005, to the same base in the south of the country. Such innovations are cementing Luxembourg's solid football foundations.

In 2009, UEFA European Women's Championship qualifying signalled the first competitive game for Luxembourg's women's team, while the men – under coach Luc Holtz's tutelage from 2010 – registered a 1-1 friendly draw with Italy in 2014, followed by a point against Belarus in UEFA EURO 2016 qualification.


Paul Philipp

Paul Philipp
Paul Philipp©Albert Krier

Nationality: Luxembourgeois
Date of birth: 21 October 1950
Association president since: 2004

• Initially a player for FC Avenir Beggen, Paul Philipp spent the best years of his playing career as a midfielder in Belgium with R. Union Saint-Gilloise, R. Standard de Liège and R. Charleroi SC; he hung up his boots in 1985 after winning a second national title with Avenir Beggen.

• Having scored four goals in 54 international appearances from 1968-82, Philipp went straight from playing to coaching the national team; his tenure from 1985-2001 included EURO '96 qualifying, in which his side won three games – two against Malta in addition to a celebrated 1-0 success against the Czech Republic.

• First elected president of the Luxembourg Football Federation (FLF) in 2004, he is still concentrating on the big picture, and said: "Our main focus will have to be on youth development; it is there where we have to set priorities for the future." This priority remained in place after Philipp's re-election for a fourth term of office in October 2014.

General secretary

Joël Wolff

Joël Wolff
Joël Wolff©FLF

Nationality: Luxembourgeois
Date of birth: 31 July 1961
General secretary since: 1990

• Joël Wolff worked for several banks in Luxembourg as a money market dealer, before joining the Luxembourg Football Federation (FLF) in 1990 as general secretary.

• He played lower league football as a full-back at SC Tétange and ES Schouweiler, finally hanging up his boots in 2003. While he was not active as a football official before joining the FLF, he had always followed national and international football with a keen interest.

• Wolff has been a member of several different UEFA committees since 1992 and is currently a member of the Control, Ethics and Disciplinary Body of UEFA. Since 1992, he has also functioned as a match delegate at UEFA games. He described his main goals in the next years as developing youth footballers at all levels, and the further improvement of national teams through the improvement of Luxembourg's national football school. Wolff also stressed the need to build a new national stadium in Luxembourg, and to strengthen and further professionalise Luxembourg's football on all levels.