Europe's longest uninterrupted football tournament between nations is set to get a makeover with the footballing heads of the three nations turning the event in to a week-long affair.
In 2016, the tournament will take place from May 29 to June 4 in all three Baltic nations. Lithuania will playing Estonia in Klaipeda, Lithuania on May 29 and face Latvia in Liepaja, Latvia on June 1. Estonia will host Latvia in Pärnu on June 4. The under-21 games will take place a day before each of the above matches.
The tournament had previously taken place over four days.
“There are two reasons for the change in format. The current physical structure, where one, two or no rest days were between games did not allow squads to field full strength teams. The second reason was that we wanted each tournament to have direct contact with each of the three Baltic nations. This is also exiting for spectators as they can support their teams both home and away in the course of one week,” Estonian Football Association President Aivar Pohlak said.
The tournament is held every two years since 2001, with Estonia hosting the opening match in 2018 and Latvia in 2020.
“We cannot forget that the Baltic Cup is the oldest tournament between national teams in Europe. The initiative for change came from Estonia at a time when Finland pulled out,” Janis Mezeckis, the head of the Latvian Football Federation, said.
The first Baltic Cup was organized in 1928 in Tallinn and was held every year until 1939, with the exemption of 1934. A similar football tournament was held 20 times during the Soviet period. After re-independence, the Baltic Cup has been played 15 times.
Overall, Latvia has won 12 titles, Lithuania 10 and Estonia 3.
Editor: J.M. Laats