Football in Montenegro

Montenegro, as a nation, was previously independent from the late Middle Ages up until 1918, when it declared its union with Serbia and subsequently became part of various incarnations of Yugoslavia, with the State Union of Serbia and Montenegro. During this time, football in Montenegro was part of the wider Yugoslav structures. As a result of the Montenegrin independence referendum on 21 May 2006, Montenegro declared independence two weeks later, on 3 June, and formed its own football association.

Before 2006

Football in Montenegro as part of Yugoslavia was first organized by the Football Association of Yugoslavia, founded in 1919, and renamed Football Association of Serbia and Montenegro in 2003. Yugoslavia, later Serbia, then Montenegro, was one of the leading countries in European football. 

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Twice they reached the semifinals of the World Cup (1930 and 1962) and were twice runner-up at the European Championships (1960 and 1968). The first player from Montenegro to participate in a World Cup was Milovan Jakia, who was Yugoslavian goalkeeper at the 1930 World Cup. Since then, Montenegrins have generally been well represented in the Yugoslav and Serbian and Montenegrin teams, with some such as Dragoljub Brnovié, Dejan Saviévié and Predrag Mijatovic becoming the pro-Yugoslavian players of all time.

In the period between the two world wars, football in Yugoslavia was initially organized regionally. Each region had its own football sub-club, which was responsible for organizing its own league system, which organizes the club in league competitions separated by vertically organized leagues. The highest league would be formed by the best clubs within the sub-league and the winner would qualify for the Yugoslav championship, where he will meet with the winners of all other sub-leagues. There was no Montenegro at that time, but today’s Montenegrin region was incorporated into a slightly enlarged Zeta banovina, to which Montenegro today also included the Dubrovnik coast, including the Peljesac peninsula, East Herzegovina, Raka serbia and western parts of Kosovo and Metohija.

The Zeta banovina was founded in March 1931 in Cetinje their football subdivision and became known as the Cetinje Football Subassociation. Since that year, the Cetinje sub-union has been forming its league system and would regularly organize the competition as the other Yugoslav sub-associations.

The Cetinje Underclubs league was dominated by the rivalry between the two major clubs SK Crnogorac from Cetinje and SK Balié from Podgorica. Before the Second World War Crnogorac was the only Montenegrin club that played in the final stages of the Yugoslav Championship, and it was only once, in the 1935/36 edition, which was played in a cup system.

Later, right after the year 1945, the best Montenegrin clubs usually played in the Yugoslav First League. The Montenegrin Republic League was the highest division on Montenegrin level. It was part of the third or fourth (depending on the period) football level of Yugoslavia. The Montenegrin First League was founded in 2004 as a local second division and became the country’s highest level after Montenegro’s independence in 2006.

Football World Cup 2006

After the independence of Montenegro in June 2006, the Serbian team was the successor to the team Serbia and Montenegro. At the 2006 World Cup, which took place in the second half of June and in July 2006, however, Serbia and Montenegro continued to play and represented the two independent states of Serbia and Montenegro. Despite an impressive record in qualifying for the tournament, the team fought in a tough first round group and were eliminated after they won no games, conceding ten goals and scoring only two. After the tournament, the team broke up and was replaced by Serbia.

Post-Independence

The Football Federation of Montenegro existed since March 1931 as a sub-association, but applied for independent membership of FIFA and UEFA on June 30, 2006. Full membership in UEFA was granted in January 2007. Meanwhile, the association had continued to lead the Montenegrin First League as the country’s first football competition. The winners of this competition will participate in European competitions in 2007. The new national team was organized and their first game was against Hungary in Podgorica on March 24, 2007. The Montenegrin team won the match 2-1.