Written by @transferfeed
Steaua Bucharest, or as you may know them now as FCSB are the biggest team in Romania having won Liga I a record 29 times, Cupa României a record 22 times, Cupa Ligii a record 2 times, Supercupa României a record 6 times. But the biggest achievement in their history has to be their European Cup triumph in 1986 winning in the final against FC Barcelona. Following their success the European Champions won the 1986 UEFA Super Cup & 1986 Intercontinental Cup. Their former parent club CSA Steaua Bucuresti also claim FCSB's honours between 1947 & 2003 but this is where the confusion just begins.
CSA Steaua where founded in 1947 & are, in theory, also FCSB. They were founded by soldiers of the Romanian Military (hence the nickname "The Military Men"). The clubs footballing department was thought to have separated in 1998 but this was proven false in 2017 by former employee Tica Danilescu. The team re opened their footballing department in July 2017 & currently play in Liga IV - the 4th tier of Romanian football. Sections of FCSB that currently belong to CSA Steaua are Rugby, Ice hockey, Handball - which they have became European champions in twice, Water Polo, youth Basketball, Volleyball, Athletics, Swimming, Gymnastics, Boxing, Rowing, Canoe, Shooting, Weightlifting, Fencing, Tennis, Cycling and Judo.
So now we get onto Steaua Bucharest's name change to FC FCSB. Following a disputes with the Romanian army lasting from around 2014-2017 the club officially changed their name to FCSB in May of this year. The clubs owner Gigi Becali announced in court that the club had lost it's rights to using a military identity. This wasn't the first time the clubs name had been questioned as in 2011 Romanian defence military officers accused the club of using the Steaua Bucharest brand illegally since 2004. Beforehand many names had been thrown about, all of which angered the fans. Names included FC Star & even FC Becali. Before the clubs name change to "FCSB" they had to cover their badge, all signs of their name & change the score board from saying "FC Steaua Bucharest" to simply "Hosts."
The clubs ultras flocked away to support CSA Steaua's new footballing team and Steaua Bucharest's Basketball & Rugby teams as they saw FCSB as not their club but felt CSA Steaua and the Basketball & Rugby teams would never be the same to them.
But Steaua Bucharest isn't the only isn't the only flaw in Romanian football, it has been a complete Riches to Rags story. Not so long ago, in 1998 the Romanians where competing in the World Cup as one of the top nations with world renowned players like Hagi, Popescu, Ilie and Petrescu. Now they'd be lucky to qualify for a tournament of the Balkan nations if it ever was a thing! In more recent times, a 2006 UEFA Cup Quarter Final was contested by 2 Romanian sides: Dinamo Bucharest & Steaua Bucharest but now it's a rare occasion to find a Romanian side making it out of the groups! You come to ask yourself: Where did it all go wrong?
Many of Romania's top sides saw themselves in dire financial positions in the early 2000s with the clubs being owned by fraudulent businessmen, prisoners, tax evaders - the whole lot! This did see fairy tales like Unirea Urziceni first title in 2009 & Oțelul Galați league triumph in 2011 but Urziceni's owner pulled out of investment the following year seeing the club in massive debt & Oțelul Galați's owner pocketed all of the money from their UCL campaign leaving the club without a penny to spare. Corruption is nothing new to the league either with many matches being fixed since the 90's. Former Romanian football club owner Dumitru Sechelariu admitted he was heavily involved in match fixing during an interview on a Romanian TV show in 2003. Romanian club merchandising available for sale started to become non-existent, attendances were spiralling down & TV broadcasting brought in minimal money.
The best players & prospects in the country don't want to be there: they will often leave to countries like Italy, Spain, England, Germany, France, Portugal etc. CFR Cluj are now banned any the Romanian Football Federation as their owner, Pászkány Árpád is unable to pay their debts but only 5 years ago they were beating Manchester United in the UEFA Champions League. Rapid Bucharest were relegated due to financial trouble. Otelul Galati, a small lower league team won the league but fell into financial trouble & are now back to being a small lower league team.
A new broadcasting deal came in 3 years ago but, as you can see, it hasn't helped much & teams certainly aren't spending more. No club, bar Steaua Bucharest, made a signing that cost money in the summer of 2015. In the last 4 season no Romanian side has qualified for the UEFA Champions League. The average attendance is still falling, now sitting at an unhealthy 2,400. Players have begun to protest over not being paid. In a survey by FIFA 75% of Romanian players said they were not paid on the right time.
So, as the great Gheorghe Hagi once said, "Romanian football is a ticking bomb, waiting to implode on itself."
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