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National associations

Developing football in Albania

Albanian football has reflected the nation's turbulent recent history – but has never been short of talent.

Albania fans at UEFA EURO 2016
Albania fans at UEFA EURO 2016 PA Images via Getty Images


Bringing more people into the game is the primary mission of the Football Association of Albania (FShF), which is striving to improve local infrastructure with plans to lay 100 pitches all over the country, in association with local clubs and municipal authorities. The FShF is also lobbying the national government for legal changes that would encourage investment in the game.

Progress remains positive; there were 12,455 children – from the youngest youth groups to Under-18 – playing for FShF-registered teams in the 2019/20 season, and more like 17,500 more recently. Coaching standards are also improving, the FShF now boasting well over 2,000 UEFA-licensed coaches all over Albania.

The association directly finances all the nation's top-league women's teams, paying players and coaching staff and subsidising travel fees, and is providing support for women's football at youth level too, paying the wages of football teachers in schools as well as supplying free equipment to teams all over Albania. In a matter of two years, the number of girls registered with FShF-backed teams has risen from 800 to nearly 2,000, with a target to bring that number to 4,000 by 2025.

"Our mission is to strengthen the game and promote its values throughout the Albanian population; to improve our performances on the pitch but also the quality of life of all of our citizens. Our commitment is to lay foundations for the years ahead with a focus on engaging more children in football, while developing the competitions and infrastructure that will deliver the best footballing experience possible. We will remain innovative and inclusive in our efforts and act with responsibility and integrity given the pivotal role our sport plays across the country."

Armand Duka, FShF president

UEFA support

UEFA HatTrick funding has been supporting the FShF’s mission to improve facilities all over the country, including the laying of pitches (and mini-pitches). Bigger projects like the refitting of the Loro Borici Stadium in Shkoder and the Ymer Zeqiri Stadium in Kukes, plus the construction of the Arena Kombëtare in Tirana, have also received UEFA HatTrick backing.

UEFA Foundation for Children in Albania

Set up in 2015, the UEFA Foundation uses football as a vehicle to help improve children’s lives by supporting hundreds of campaigns and projects across Europe and around the world.

Score for Education

The project aims to contribute to a better school environment that promotes and supports healthy lifestyles to enable children to develop their full potential. It is based on the idea that sports, and especially football, play a crucial role in helping people develop healthy practices and attitudes and in improving treatment of the most deprived children.

Association history

1913 A side representing the city of Shkoder – and called Independence – plays the first documented match in Albania against a team of Austro-Hungarian soldiers. According to reports, the match lasts 45 minutes per half and stays faithful to the laws of the game. The residents of Shkoder had been surprised a few years earlier to see a strange game being played by students at a Christian mission, but football swiftly grew in popularity in a country then under Ottoman Empire control. 1921 Shkoder side Vllaznia, who had been formed in February 1919, take on Agimi, founded a year later, in an early documented match, with Vllaznia winning. 1930 A domestic championship is instituted in April 1930, featuring six teams: Skënderbeu, Bashkimi Shkodran, Teuta, Urani Elbasan, Vlora and KF Tirana. The first match is a 3-2 victory for Tirana over Bashkimi. In the same year, the Football Association of Albania (Federata Shqiptare e Futbollit – FShF) is founded on 6 June. 1932 The FShF becomes a member of FIFA and is a founder member of UEFA in 1954. The difficult economic situation in the country impedes efforts to develop football, but some of the nation’s top players thrive abroad, Riza Lushta, Loro Boriçi and Naim Kryeziu who plied their trade in Italy for Juventus, SS Lazio and AS Roma respectively, between 1940 and 1944. 2015 Skënderbeu become the first Albanian side to reach the UEFA Champions League play-off round. They lose to Dinamo Zagreb but drop into the UEFA Europa League, where they became the first Albanian club to compete in a European competition group stage. They achieve another first by winning a sixth successive national league title in 2015/16. 2022 Tirana's Arena Kombëtare stages the inaugural UEFA Europa Conference League final, Roma beating Feyenoord 1-0. In the same year, Vllaznia Shköder become the first Albanian side to reach the UEFA Women's Champions League group stage. Present day

National team history

1946 Albania's national-team debut comes on 22 September: a 5-0 thrashing of Montenegro. A few weeks later, between 7 and 13 October, the Balkan Nations' Cup is held in Tirana, and the hosts end up winning the four-nation friendly tournament, beating Romania 1-0 in the final. 1965 A Northern Ireland side featuring George Best and Pat Jennings are held to a 1-1 draw in November, which ends the visitors' FIFA World Cup qualifying hopes. Albania deal a similar blow to West Germany after a goalless UEFA European Championship qualifier in December 1967. 2016 After ending their UEFA EURO 2016 qualifying campaign with a 3-0 away win against Armenia, Albania earn a place in the finals in France: their first major final tournament. They fail to qualify for the knockout phase, but achieve another 'first' in winning their last Group A match against Romania, thanks to a goal from Armando Sadiku - the first Albanian player to score in any major tournament. 2017 Albania make it through the main round of a UEFA Futsal EURO for the first time, after finishing top of their preliminary round group with three wins against England, hosts Bulgaria and Malta. Present day


Armand Duka

Nationality: Albanian
Date of birth: 7 October 1962
Association president since: 2002

FShF president Armand Duka
FShF president Armand Duka©UEFA.com

General secretary

Ilir Shulku

Nationality: Albanian
Date of Birth: 20 January 1971
Association general secretary since: 2012

FShF general secretary Ilir Shulku
FShF general secretary Ilir Shulku©UEFA.com

Football Association of Albania website