The Football Association of Slovenia (NZS) has adopted a model based on three strategic pillars as it aims to maintain football’s position as the nation’s most popular sport:
- Developing quality football at all levels, with a special focus on the women’s game;
- Establishing and consolidating the importance and reputation of football in Slovenia;
- Making balanced operational changes and investments in the development of the game.
With a population of around two million, Slovenia has punched well above its weight in sporting terms, winning over 100 Olympic medals since independence in 1991. European success in basketball, handball, ice hockey and volleyball have set a high standard to follow for the nation’s footballers, but football continues to hold a special place, with the number of registered players continuing to rise, from 46,773 in 2017 to 60,334 in 2022.
The NZS hopes to take the national footballing infrastructure up a notch or two in the years ahead to benefit emerging generations, and has developed a holistic strategy for improving women’s football, focusing on participation and coach education. These new initiatives will complement the programmes that have brought funding for women’s football, opportunities for youth development and activities for the promotion of the women's game, including a festival for new players.
“The popularity of football is constantly growing. We are seeing progress in terms of our relations with stakeholders, inclusion, mass participation and in the greatly increased interest in partnerships with the NZS. The broad appeal of the sport, which makes football ever more socially influential, also increases our responsibility. The NZS has a commitment to the football community and society as a whole. The next strategic period brings new challenges, new objectives and new activities that we will carry out together for the benefit of the game.”
Radenko Mijatović, NZS president
In the past, UEFA’s HatTrick fund has helped to lay artificial pitches, set up floodlights, and establish the NZS’s National Training Centre at Brdo, which features three full-sized pitches and artificial pitch as well as the administrative buildings.
UEFA funding continues to help with national-team projects, women's football, the grassroots game, refereeing, governance activities, social responsibility projects and the development of infrastructures.
The Ljubljana Football Association is founded on 23 April; this forerunner of the NZS organised footballing activities in Slovenia, including a national championship and cups, under the wider authority of the Yugoslav Football Association (FSJ).
Capital sides Ilirija and Primorje merge for financial reasons to become SC Ljubljana and attract the best Slovenian players; this club competes in the Yugoslavian First League and (along with other Slovenian sides Maribor and Celje) plays matches against foreign opposition, from Austria, Hungary and Czechoslovakia.
The NZS is formed in May, under the aegis of the FSJ, and is given responsibility for local referees and coaches.
Slovenia’s most successful Yugoslav-era club, Olimpija Ljubljana, lose to Crvena zvezda in the 1970 Yugoslavian Cup final; despite that defeat, they enter the European Cup Winners' Cup, falling to Benfica in the first round.
Following the country's declaration of independence in June 1991, an inaugural national championship starts, comprising Slovenian clubs that had participated in the Yugoslavian first, second and third divisions.
The NZS is admitted to UEFA and FIFA, heralding the country's involvement in the qualifiers for EURO '96.
The NZS moves into its own headquarters in Ljubljana.
The top flight, or First League (Prva Liga), is reorganised into a 12-team championship for the 1998/99 campaign; it is reduced to ten clubs from 2005.
Maribor become the first Slovenian side to reach the UEFA Champions League group stage.
In September, NZS president Aleksander Čeferin is elected as UEFA's seventh president at the body's Extraordinary Congress in Athens. He had served at the helm of the Slovenian association since 2011, and automatically became a FIFA vice-president when he was elected by UEFA's member associations.
National team history
On 23 June, a local Slovenian selection take on a French Olympic side in a friendly game in Ljubljana, losing 5-0.
Danilo Popivoda and Brane Oblak become the first Slovenians to appear at a FIFA World Cup, representing Yugoslavia in West Germany; the pair also represent hosts Yugoslavia at the 1976 EURO.
On 3 June, the independent Slovenia makes its international debut with a 1-1 draw against Estonia in Tallinn.
Slovenia make their competitive debut with a 1-1 home draw against FIFA World Cup runners-up Italy in Maribor on 7 September. Sašo Udovič scores Slovenia's goal.
Under former Crvena zvezda star Srečko Katanec, Slovenia qualify for UEFA EURO 2000 in Belgium and the Netherlands. After overcoming Ukraine in a qualifying play-off; they draw with Yugoslavia and Norway at the finals, and lose narrowly to Spain, Zlatko Zahovič scoring three of their four goals.
Slovenia reach the World Cup finals in Korea/Japan, again thanks to a play-off victory over Romania.
Matjaž Kek steers Slovenia to the World Cup finals in South Africa as they overcome Russia in the play-offs.
Slovenia reach the quarter-finals of the Futsal EURO in Belgium; they match this achievement in 2018.
Date of birth: 16 November 1963
Association president since: 2016
Date of birth: 1 November 1978
Association general secretary since: 2018
Football Association of Slovenia website