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Photo by: Madis Reimund

Photo by: Brit Maria Tael

Just as Estonia is a young country, Estonian football is still developing.

Although football was popular among Estonians during the first part of the last century, occupation broke the continuity of the game and football became a sport for foreigners. Rebuilding football as a sport in Estonia began in the 1990s. Even though the starting point was nearly non-existent, football has become one of the most popular sports in Estonia.

Similarly to the country itself, Tallinn is the prime centre of Estonian football. Four of the ten teams that compete in the Premium Liiga, which is the local major league, are based in Tallinn. An additional two teams partly train in Tallinn, although their home games are played elsewhere.

Therefore, it is not surprising that all of the championship titles since the restoration of independence have been won by football clubs based in Tallinn. Even though former champions Norma, Lantana, and TVMK are not active anymore, eleven-time champion Flora and nine-time champion Levadia still offer the most thrilling matches of the major league. Their biggest rival is Nõmme Kalju, the third club in the capital and the champion of 2012. Infonet Tallinn, which was crowned the winner in 2016, joined Levadia before this season.

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Football stadiums in Tallinn

A football fan who is visiting Tallinn should visit the three biggest stadiums in town. Kadriorg stadium, which is the 5,000-seat home stadium of Levadia, is located on the edge of the picturesque Kadriorg park and was the home stadium of the Estonian national football team from the first republic until this century. The 12,000-seat Kalevi Keskstaadion is currently waiting for renovation. In addition to football, the stadium has hosted the Estonian Dance Festivals since the 1950s and acts today as a forgotten giant.

The largest stadium in Tallinn and Estonia is A. Le Coq Arena, located between the railway tracks in Lilleküla, which has 15,000 seats and is the home arena of FC Flora and the Estonian national football team. The stadium was opened in 2001, while the construction was still in progress. The game that Estonia lost with a score of 2:4 against the all-star Dutch team went down in football history as the opening game of the stadium, although the youth themes of both countries had fought it out on the same stadium a day earlier.

The stadium remained unfinished after its opening. Despite that, alongside the matches of the Estonian league and the national team, the stadium hosted the UEFA European Under-19 Championship in 2012. The finalising of the construction work and renovation of A. Le Coq Arena, which is located only two kilometres away from the Old Town of Tallinn, began in 2016, when the stadium was chosen as the place where this year’s UEFA Super Cup will be held in August. UEFA Super Cup is a match between the winners of two large European international competitions, The UEFA Champions League and the UEFA Europa League. Today, the training complex located at Lilleküla is the largest and most modern in the Baltics.

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UEFA Super Cup 2018

On 15 August, Tallinn will become the football capital of the world for a short period, when Real Madrid, the most successful team in Europe’s history, and its city rival Atletico Madrid arrive in Tallinn and fight for the UEFA Super Cup. During that time, the attention of the world will be focused on Tallinn. Aivar Pohlak, the President of the Estonian Football Association, has said that the UEFA Super Cup is the biggest football match that will ever be held in Estonia. The event that is held in Estonia during the centenary of the Republic of Estonia will bring thousands of tourists to Tallinn and the game will be watched by 50 million people in 200 countries via a live broadcast.

Tallinn and A. Le Coq Arena are connected to another grand event in football this summer. This year, the FIFA World Cup is held in Russia and because the distance between Russia and Estonia is not very big, the Moroccan national team, which is competing in the World Cup, held their last match in preparation for the tournament here. The Moroccan team that featured several star players defeated the Estonian team in Lilleküla with a score of 3:1.

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Sports bars in Tallinn

Tallinn’s proximity to Saint Petersburg, one of the cities hosting the World Cup, makes the capital of Estonia an attractive destination for tourists that are travelling to Russia. There are many different places in Tallinn where the World Cup can be comfortably watched.

There are several bars and pubs in the Old Town where you can watch your favourite teams compete in the World Cup. Right next to Tallinn Town Hall Square is the Irish bar Mad Murphy’s and a little further the bar Nimeta, which offer the traditional experience of watching a game at the pub.

Those that happen to be in Telliskivi Creative City can enjoy football in a more homely environment in the Club of Different Rooms. There are several Olybet sports bars spread across the city and the most exciting new arrival of the summer is O’Learys sports bar, which was recently opened in the Kristiine shopping centre. There, you can watch the World Cup on a whopping 200 screens. In addition to its vastness, O’Learys is special because of a large cinema screen that takes the experience of watching football to a new level.

Read more about the TOP 5 sports bars in Tallinn.

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About the author

Kasper Elissaar is the chief editor of Soccernet.ee, the largest football portal in Estonia. He is a member of the Estonian Football Journalists’ Association and last year, the magazine Jalka (‘Football’) selected him as the best journalist of the year.


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