The longest journeys in UEFA club football

Astana's round of 32 tie against Sporting CP will involve a round-trip of over 12,000km for both sides, but it is not (quite) the longest trip in UEFA club competition history, as discovers.

Astana's Aleksei Schetkin and Benfica's Gonçalo Guedes defy jet lag in 2015
Astana's Aleksei Schetkin and Benfica's Gonçalo Guedes defy jet lag in 2015 ©AFP/Getty Images

A European record was set in the 2015/16 UEFA Champions League group stage when Benfica beat Astana 2-0 at home and drew 2-2 in the return leg in Kazakhstan – the away sides making the longest journeys in the history of UEFA's club competitions, around 6,173km.

A similar journey is now on the cards for Astana and Sporting CP, who meet in the first leg of their round of 32 tie on 15 February. Sporting's Estadio José Alvalade is a little to the east of the Estádio do Sport Lisboa e Benfica, meaning Astana nominally have a few thousand metres less to travel as the crow flies than they did in 2015. maps the extremes of the footballing continent.

Kairat players in Lisbon ahead of UEFA's longest victory parade
Kairat players in Lisbon ahead of UEFA's longest victory parade©Sportsfile

Longest UEFA club journey
Kairat Almaty
2015 UEFA Futsal Cup finals
Sporting CP
2017 UEFA Futsal Cup finals

The longest victory parade in European football history took Kairat back to Kazakhstan after they won the top prize in club futsal in Lisbon in April 2017, a 6,911km journey west not flustering Cacau's side. Sporting CP made the return journey as the 2017 final four event was held in Almaty, but lost 7-0 in the decider.

Longest European/South American Cup journey
Racing Avellaneda 2-1 Celtic

Between 1960 and 2004, the champions of Europe and South America competed for the UEFA-endorsed European/South American Cup – or Intercontinental Cup. The furthest any side had to travel was 11,304km, when Celtic flew south to take on Argentina's Racing Avellaneda in the 1967 competition. Having won the home leg 1-0, they lost 2-1 in Buenos Aires.

Shortest UEFA journeys
AC Milan 0-0 Internazionale Milano
Internazionale Milano 1-1 AC Milan
2002/03 UEFA Champions League semi-finals

AC Milan 2-0 Internazionale Milano
Internazionale Milano 0-3 AC Milan

2004/05 UEFA Champions League quarter-finals

In the early days of European football, smaller clubs were occasionally persuaded to play both their home and away games at their opponents' stadiums, but no away game involved a shorter round trip than these two Milan derbies. The clubs always have the same dressing rooms at San Siro, ensuring an away trip of 0km for these ties. Ironically, the first of them was won on away goals.

Tromsø's Alfheim Stadium
Tromsø's Alfheim Stadium©Getty Images

Most northerly UEFA games
Norway's Tromsø have played 27 UEFA home games at their Alfheim Stadium.
The city of Tromso's coordinates are 69° 40' 58" N, which is inside the Arctic Circle.
The longest UEFA journey to Tromsø was taken by İnter Bakı, who had to travel 3,717km for a 2-0 UEFA Europa League second qualifying round defeat in July 2013.

Most southerly UEFA games (excluding European/South American Cup)
Spain's Las Palmas have played five UEFA home games at their Estadio de Gran Canaria.
Las Palmas lies in the Canary Islands, coordinates 28° 9' 0" N, which lie off the coast of Morocco and are further south than Cairo.
The longest UEFA journey to Gran Canaria was undertaken by Sloboda Tuzla, who travelled 3,548km for a 5-0 UEFA Cup first round defeat in September 1977.

Sibir played two UEFA home games
Sibir played two UEFA home games©Alexey Ignatovich

Most easterly UEFA games
Russia's Sibir Novosibirsk played two UEFA home games at their Spartak Stadium Novosibirsk.
The coordinates are 82° 56' 0" E, making it about as far east as Nepal.
The longest of the two journeys to play Sibir was a 4,951km haul taken by PSV Eindhoven for a 1-0 UEFA Europa League play-off defeat in August 2010.

Most westerly UEFA games (excluding European/South American Cup)
Santa Clara played two UEFA home games at the São Miguel Stadium in Ponta Delgada.
The main city in the Azores, its coordinates are 25° 44' 50" W, meaning it lies about as far west as Cape Verde.
The longest journey west to Ponta Delgada was taken by Armenia's Shirak, who travelled 5,824km west for a 2-0 UEFA Intertoto Cup first round defeat in June 2002.

Luch-Energiya spent a season in the Russian top division
Luch-Energiya spent a season in the Russian top division©Getty Images

The longest possible journeys
Confine the search to clubs who have competed in UEFA competitions and the longest possible would be a 8,046km trip for a game between Sibir Novosibirsk and Tenerife – another side from the Canaries who are even further west than Las Palmas, though not as far south – but even more arduous journeys could theoretically happen.

Luch-Energiya Vladivostok spent three seasons in the Russian top flight from 2006 to 2008; their Dynamo Stadium is 100m from the Sea of Japan. A theoretical game between Luch-Energiya and Tenerife would involve an 11,460km trip each way.

Europe's boundaries can be stretched even further though. Sides from overseas territories are entitled to play in the Portuguese and French domestic cups.

Santa Clara's base in the Azores is a long way west, but the situation in France is even more startling, given that sides from Mayotte, Reunion, Guadeloupe, Martinique and French Guyana could all theoretically qualify for European competition as French Cup winners.

French Guyana's favourite footballing son Florent Malouda
French Guyana's favourite footballing son Florent Malouda©Getty Images

Should current French Guyanese champions Matoury ever have to take on Luch-Energiya in a European game, it would involve a round trip of the best part of 30,000km – and it would be closer for them to fly west than east. The circumference of the planet, incidentally, is around 40,000km.