The week just before the European Football Cup in Debrecen a CONIFA went on an official visit to Transnistria. Especially the future president of the Football Association, Evgheni Balaniuc, made it more than a pleasant trip. Our General Secretary, Sascha Düerkop, and our South America Director, Jens Jockel, were even welcomed by the Foreign and Sport Ministries of the country. “Football has a huge tradition in Transnistria and we are looking forward to express that with our own national team very soon.”
After a short 1 1/2 hour trip with a rental car from Chisinau, the capital of Moldova, our delegation arrived at the borders of the “Pridnestrovian Moldovan Republic”, as it is called officially. As we did have a personal invitation from the Foreign Ministry the border process was very easy and after all immigration and insurance paper were signed we could continue our journey through Bendery to the capital of Transnistria – Tiraspol. Evgheni Balaniuc, manager of the Moldovan First Division club Dinamo-Auto, author for uefa.com and future president of the Pridnestrovian Football Association awaited us in Tiraspol to show us our apartment for the stay – which was just next door to his flat. That is how our first visit to the small, but very nice, country started. Our host took all his time to quickly show us around the main sights in Tiraspol and answering all practical questions during the first evening.
During the touristic tours through the capital of Tiraspol, but also through Bendery, we got a good picture of the country and can only recommend everyone to visit it. Especially Tiraspol was, during our visit in summer, a very relaxed and laid-back place. Most people spend their daytime at the beach of the river Dniestr, that gives the country its name, or in one of the plenty parks in the green city. In the evenings and at night the locals took party boats floating on the river or headed in one of the plenty pubs or the top-class night club in the Sheriff-owned “Hotel Russia”. The overall impression was very positive and, most important and opposing some media reports we read before our travel, we can say that public life is totally peaceful and safe. Public crime is nearly non-existing and you will always feel safe walking around alone, no matter if 2 pm or 2 am.
One of the biggest sport centres in Europe
During the next days we were shown around the amazing sporting facilities of Tiraspol and its surrounding.
Evgheni Balaniuc’s club Dinamo-Auto has a 2009 built sport center just outside the city, including 2 training pitches, a very modern, even though small, stadium and a guest house that can easily host a guest team.
Right in the center of Tiraspol the national stadium is accessible freely for all citizens. It is an old-fashioned, but very atmospheric, multi-sport arena with around 20.000 seats.
Most impressive and well-known all over Europe was the Sports Complex “Sheriff” of the Moldovan football superpower “FC Sheriff Tiraspol”. Club coordinator Pogrebnoi Serghei greeted us, thanks to the organisation of the Foreign Ministry, at the gates of the breathtaking complex to show us all the facilities, which nearly took 2 hours due to the size of the complex. What feels like an own village at the outskirts of Tiraspol turned out to be a European top class sporting center with a full-pitch indoor stadium, 2 UEFA Europa League and Champions League certified outdoor stadiums, 8 training pitches, an Olympic swimming pool and a youth academy that can host up to 600 people.
Not only does Transnistria all the infrastructure to host friendly matches and/or tournament in and around Tiraspol, everyone we met also ensured us of their full support for the idea of CONIFA. Mr Balaniuc and Mr Serghei both agreed that their clubs (Dinamo-Auto and Sheriff) would happily play friendly matches against our members during pre-season or in the winter breaks. Both clubs also offered their facilities to be used by CONIFA for tournaments or friendly matches at any time.
In addition the Foreign Ministry and the Sports Ministry both expressed their desire to attract more international football in Transnistria by the help of CONIFA. After a few days in Tiraspol it became very clear that the opportunities for CONIFA in Transnistria are enormous and that we can start a long and fruitful journey together with the booming little country in the heart of Eastern Europe.
Strong support by the authorities
During a very valuable meeting with delegations of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and the Ministry of Sport all parties emphasized the strong support of the CONIFA values and were aiming for a strong cooperation with us. The Transnistrian diplomats explained us that football is traditionally very strong in their country and informed us about the clubs of the country, which traditionally are amongst the top teams in the Moldovan First Division and regularly play in international tournaments of UEFA. However, a national team was not formed yet, basically because the Transnistrian authorities were not aware of a proper platform, where such a team would be welcome to play.
Getting to know us, CONIFA, was received as an important stimulus to found a Football Association that manages a future national team. All paperworks have already been finished and filed to the Transnistrian Commerce Chamber. It was further unveiled that Evgheni Balaniuc, our host, was chosen to lead the newly build Football Association and that the FA is looking for CONIFA membership as soon as the national registration is finished.
Furthermore, the Foreign Ministry of Transnistria gave us an insight about the possibilities of Transnistria to host major events. They fully committed themselves to support any immigration processes for our members and to help with all organisational steps, should we grant them the hosting rights to a CONIFA event.
We happily received their wish to host a huge tournament “as soon as possible” in Tiraspol and/or Bendery.
Whatever the future will bring, surely the visit was a first very important step to get to know each other and exchange ones values. Our impression is that CONIFA and Transnistria fit perfectly and we can only strongly recommend every of our members to make a travel to Tiraspol to experience the perfect level of support and professionalism on their own.
A report of our meeting with the Ministries can also be found on the homepage of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the Pridnestrovian Moldovan Republic
Спасибо за прекрасное время! Увидимся в Тирасполе!