Moldova

Capital: Chişinău
Population: 4.1 million
Currency: Moldovan Leu (MDL)
Official Language: Romanian
Borders: Ukraine (North/East), Romania (West)
GNP per Capita: $1,900
Main Airport: Aeroportul Internaţional Chişinău

The Republic of Moldova is a landlocked country in Eastern Europe with borders to Ukraine in the East (Nistru river) and Romania in the West (Pruth river). Earlier a part of the Principality of Moldavia it was annexed by the Russian Empire in 1812 (then called Bessarabia). Later it became part of Romania and in 1940 occupied by the Soviet Union to form the Moldavian SSR. In August 1991 Moldova declared its independence. Moldova has two autonomic regions, Gagauzia in the South and the land strip of Transnistria, which is a special case. Since September 1990 de facto independent, the region on the left bank of the river Nistru (Dniester) is an unrecognized state with their own currency, flag and passports etc. The league system in Moldova is quite simple, it´s every year different. There is the top level “Divizia Naţională” with nowadays 12 teams, playing each other three times and starting from beginning of July. The bottom club from the league table is relegated to the second level “Divizia A”, where usually 16 to 20 clubs play each other twice. The third level is Divizia B, which is split in a northern and a southern group, having usually each 9 members. The FMF (Federaţia Moldovenească de Fotbal) organizes the cup competition “Cupa Moldovei Orange”, played from August till May.

Go to Footiemap.com to gain access to their excellent graphical overview of Football in Moldova.

Previous Champions since 1992
1992 – 1996: FC Zimbru Chişinău
1996/97 : FC Constructorul Chişinău
1998 – 2000: FC Zimbru Chişinău
2001 – 2009 : FC Sheriff Tiraspol
One can easily see that there are just two clubs dominating the league, namely FC Zimbru from the capital Chişinău and FC Sheriff from the transnistrian capital Tiraspol. Constructorul is a defunct club which is the predecessor of the team FC Tiraspol. Other big names are FC Dacia Chişinău (played three times in international competitions), CS Tiligul-Tiras (from Transnistria, won three cup titles in a row in the early 1990s) and FC Nistru Otaci (won the cup in 2005 and being runners-up for 8 times). 

Teams playing in the 2008/2009 Moldovan League season

FC Zimbru Chişinău
Stadionul Zimbru, Capacity: 10,500
Pictured Left
Found in 1947 and played several years in Soviet´s top level. Under the name of FK Nistru Kishinev the club played also second and third level in the Soviet Union. After the Moldovan Independence the club became the most successful club until the club Sheriff from Tiraspol was found. Having its own base in the southern district “Botanica”, the club plays their home matches in the new Zimbru stadium, inaugurated in 2006 with a capacity of 10,500. Beside the stadium in Tiraspol, this is the only stadium in Moldova with international standards to host international competitions. Due to the fact that the old national stadium in Speia is defunct and the Stadionul Central was demolished in 2007, the national team plays their homes matches in the Zimbru stadium.

FC Sheriff Tiraspol
Bolshaya Sportivnaja Arena, Capacity: 13,460
Pictured Right
FC Sheriff was found in 1997 by the transnistrian state own company Sheriff (related to the president´s family that also controls media, supermarkets etc). The clubs is dominating the league since 2001, winning all championship titles and 5 cup finals. Earlier, the club played in the Municipal stadium in the transnistrian capital Tiraspol until in 2002 the new Sheriff Complex was opened. It is the most luxurious sports complex in the whole region, having a main stadium (Bolshaya Arena), a smaller stadium with athletic track (Malaya Arena) an indoor stadium (Krytyj futbol’nyj manezh) and all necessary facilities including a five-star hotel. Everything quite unusual for the poorest region in whole Europe! The big Arena is also used by the local rival of Sheriff, namely FC Tiraspol. This club was found 1993 in Chişinău under the name of FC Constructorul Chişinău. In 2001 the team was sold to a smaller town called Cioburciu and in 2002 starting as FC Tiraspol in the Transnistrian capital. The predecessor Constructorul won the league in 1997 and won the cup finals in 1996 and 2000.

The smaller stadium in Tiraspol´s 22 million Euro Complex, the Malaya Sportivnaya Arena, pictured left, has a capacity of 9.300 seats with two big stands and two smaller ones behind the goals. The stadium is used for training competitions, from the farm teams of Tiraspol´s clubs and sometimes from other local clubs.

FK Dinamo Bender
Stadion Dinamo, Capacity: 5,061
Bender is one of the bigger towns in Moldova. Even if it´s located on the right bank of the Nistru river, the town belongs to the Transnistrian region, sometimes also called Tighina. FK Dinamo Bender was found in 1950, played only regional competitions before the national league of Moldova was found in 1991. Stadion Dinamo is one of the better stadiums in Moldova, even if there is just one two-tier stand (5,063 wooden seats) and the floodlight system is out of order since many years.

FC Nistru Otaci
Stadionul Sătesc, Capacity: 2,000
Otaci is a small town in the far north, located on the banks of the Nistru river, opposite of the Ukrainian town Mogilev-Podolski. Before the 1990s FC Nistru used the town stadium in Otaci, which was demolished in 2007 and is possibly to be replaced by a modern one in the future. Since then, the club uses the village stadium (Stadionul Sătesc (in Russian: Stadionul Sel’skiy)) in the nearby village Călărăşăuca. Ther you find only a gras pitch with three concrete terraces and a simple iron fence. FC Nistru Otaci was found in 1953, having the first success in the new Moldovan league. After a fusion with Unisport Chişinău in 1998, the club became runners-up in 2002, 2004 and 2006. Nistru played 8 cup finals but won only in 2005. Before, in 2001 the club played in international competition against Austrian side Grazer AK. In the UEFA-cup qualification 2008, Nistru played Hertha BSC Berlin, but the match was played in the capital in Zimbru stadium. The second club from Otaci is FC Otaci, playing usually in the second level, Divizia A.

FC Olimpia Bălţi
Stadionul Orăşenesc, Capacity: 5,953
Pictured Right
Bălţi is the third biggest town in Moldova, located in the north. The Stadionul Orăşenesc (Town Stadium) is one of the bigger stadiums in the country, having two stands and a small covered area. It´s located close to the local bus station and just a five minutes’ walk away from the city centre. The stadium is used from FC Olimpia Bălţi, a permanently club from the top level. The club was found in 1963, changing its name several times. Since 1993 the club is called Olimpia.

CS Tiligul-Tiras Tiraspol
Stadion Tiligul, Capacity: 3,525
Pictured Left
Ternovca is a small village, three kilometers south from Bender and Tiraspol. It´s the empire of Grigorii Corzun, club´s president of FC Tiligul-Tiras. The club was runner-up in 1991 in the second Soviet league and could have played top level football then. Instead of this the back then only club from Tiraspol played Moldovan league and won the cup competition three times from 1993 to 1995. Later on, Corzun build the stadium in Ternovca that has now an uncovered main stand and another concrete terrace behind the goal.

FC Dacia Chişinău
Stadioul Dinamo, Capacity: 2,692

Pictured Right
There is one more traditional stadium in the capital Chişinău, the Stadionul Dinamo. It is located at the and of Bucureşti-street, close to the central park in Chişinău. Once used by CS Dinamo (defunct club) it is the home of many different football clubs from the capital that have no own stadium. But traditionally it is also the home of suddenly founded clubs that disappear after some years (happened with FC Beşiktaş Chişinău one year ago, a club that was predicted to play top level football having the financial support of a Turkish business man). In the last years the stadium was used by FC Politehnica-UTM Chişinău and FC Academia (now called FC Academia UTM Chişinău) who have their own newly rebuild stadium close to the Technical University of Chişinău. Now, the homeless team FC Dacia Chişinău uses the Dinamo ground since the old national stadium is demolished and Dacia hasn´t built an own stadium until now. FC Dacia was found in 2000. In 2005 the “Wolves” played UEFA-Cup against FC Schalke and in 2007 they reached the UI-Cup final where they lost against Hamburg.

CSCA-Rapid Chişinău
Stadioul Sătesc, Capacity: 1,500
Pictured Left
Just 10 kilometres northwest of Chişinău is the small village Ghidighici. The current club using the village stadium is called 2008 found club CSCA-Rapid. This is the successor of 2005 founded FC Rapid Ghidighici (bought the team from CSCA-Steaua´s farm team and dissolved after a scandal in winter 2007) and the traditional club CSCA-Steaua Chişinău. The  army club has a colourful past with many name changes and relocations from Cahul to Chişinău, Stăuceni, Orhei and now Ghidighici – quite complicated but usual in Moldova. From 2006 till 2008 the club CSCA-Steaua played in the town Orhei, which is 45 kilometers north of Chişinău. There, the local stadium was replaced by a modern one, called Complexul Sportiv Raional.

FC Iskra-Stal Rîbniţa
Gorodskoj Stadion, Capacity: 4,500 
FC Iskra-Stal is a club from the transnistrian town Rîbniţa. The club has quite a long history in the top level but never won any title. The city stadium is a typical Moldovan stadium, having the same looking like any other stadium from smaller towns – a concrete terrace with wooden bleachers that are coloured in the national flags colours or in this case in the club colours.

For any further questions related to Moldova, the travel possibilities, the clubs or the stadiums, don´t hesitate to contact Oliver Leisner, author of the “Groundhopping Informer” and owner of the page www.stadia-md.com.    For more details on football in Moldova, go to Footiemap.com

There are currently no flights from the UK to Moldova.  Indirect flights via Vienna, Istanbul or Bucharest start from around £300 return.

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