UEFA.com works better on other browsers
For the best possible experience, we recommend using Chrome, Firefox or Microsoft Edge.

Georgia breakthrough built on years of development

In qualifying for UEFA EURO 2024, Georgia made history and reached a major football tournament for the first time. It’s the latest milestone on a journey that has seen Georgian football go from strength to strength through a strategy of growing the game and leveraging UEFA support.

Georgia's players celebrate winning the UEFA EURO 2024 qualifying play-off final against Greece
Georgia's players celebrate winning the UEFA EURO 2024 qualifying play-off final against Greece AFP via Getty Images

The scenes of celebration on the pitch in Tbilisi, bringing together Georgia’s players and thousands of fans, illustrated the magnitude of the achievement. Nika Kvekveskiri’s decisive penalty sealed a 4-2 shootout win for Georgia against Greece, confirming their place at UEFA EURO 2024 in Group F alongside Czechia, Portugal and Türkiye.

For some, their participation at EURO 2024 may come as a surprise. Close observers of Georgian football, however, will appreciate that their presence at a major football tournament has been a long time coming.

The EURO 2024 qualification is the culmination of years of football development, planning and innovation by the ambitious Georgian Football Federation (GFF), which has leveraged multiple types of UEFA support alongside its work to maximise its impact.

Highlights: Georgia 0-0 Greece (4-2 pens)

Nations League provides platform for success

Georgia found themselves in contention for a EURO 2024 spot through their performances in the 2022/23 UEFA Nations League, having won their group, but it’s not the only way in which the tournament contributed.

Success breeds success, and the series of competitive matches and the two promotions provided through the UEFA Nations League since its inception have laid the ground for Georgia’s sustained momentum. Notably, they boast one of the highest win percentages of any Nations League team.

What’s more, in the 2024/25 edition Georgia will have the opportunity to regularly test themselves against an even higher level of opposition, having qualified for League B. Before the introduction of the Nations League, regular competitive matches of this sort were much harder to come by, especially for many of Europe’s smaller footballing nations.

For an indication of Georgia’s improvement, take their 2022/23 Nations League double over North Macedonia – the team that denied them a spot at EURO 2020.

The benefits of hosting major tournaments

The senior national side’s success has been preceded by notable achievements at age-grade level, with the GFF using the opportunities offered by hosting major UEFA tournaments to drive interest and give their teams valuable experience.

In 2017, Georgia hosted the UEFA European Under-19 Championship, with an impressive 25,000 fans attending their final group game. In 2023, Georgia co-hosted the UEFA European Under-21 Championship with Romania, and the country’s growing appetite for football was illustrated by the record-breaking combined attendance of 316,023, with the three largest-ever crowds in the tournament’s history being recorded in games featuring Georgia.

Georgia also broke new ground on the pitch by reaching the knockout stages – having never previously even qualified for the finals – topping a group of European heavyweights: Belgium, the Netherlands and Portugal. Add that to Georgia’s men’s Under-17 and Under-19 national teams qualifying for the elite round of UEFA’s age-grade tournaments for the first time in the 2019/20 season, and a clear picture of progression in Georgian football begins to take shape.

2023 Under-21 EURO top ten goals

Georgian football’s strategic development

In order to increase the player pool at the elite level of the game, growing the popularity of playing football in Georgia has been one of the GFF’s key aims over the past decade. This is an area in which they’ve had significant success.

Between 2015 and 2021, the number of registered male football players in Georgia rose from 14,676 to 37,600, with the number of female players increasing more than tenfold.

That development is in part thanks to the long-running support of the UEFA Grow programme, which offers on-demand skills and expertise to help associations align football development projects with their strategic priorities.

UEFA Grow support was crucial to the development of the federation’s 2022-26 strategy, which lays out a framework for continued success and has played a key role in maximising the impact of co-hosting the UEFA European Under-21 Championship finals last year.

Investing UEFA HatTrick funding

Alongside the support of UEFA Grow, UEFA HatTrick funding has contributed to many of the GFF’s recent infrastructure projects. These include major stadium renovations and the creation of multiple training centres across the country, providing more players with access to high-class football facilities.

It was also with HatTrick funding that Georgia was able to establish a new national football academy in 2014, being one of the first associations involved with UEFA’s Elite Youth Player Development Programme. The subsequent improvements in footballing infrastructure and talent pathways have been vital in preparing players in different age categories for the country’s national teams.

While qualification for UEFA EURO 2024 provides a fitting moment to pause and reflect on Georgian football’s journey so far, it would be no surprise to see it achieve further milestones, both this summer and beyond.

Selected for you