Last Monday Football Association of Serbia started with selling tickets for the UEFA Nations League play-off match with Norway, and considering interest of our fans, players of the coach Ljubiša Tumbaković will have great support at Ullevaal Stadium in Oslo, on March 26th.
“In accordance with UEFA regulations, a guest team has right to 5% of the total stadium capacity. We have taken the total amount of tickets and put it at disposal of our supporters. Those are 1,350 category 2 tickets for a sector behind a goal and 200 category1 tickets at the central stand. Prices are RSD 5,000 and 6,500, respectively; the prices were decided upon by the host and there was nothing we could do about that. I agree it is expensive for us, but we are playing an away match and we have to respect the decision of the Norway FA” – stated FAS General Secretary, Jovan Šurbatović.
Phones have been ringing around the clock, ever since the moment the ticketing information for the Oslo match was announced.
“There is a huge interest of our people from abroad. Fan groups from Scandinavian countries, Denmark, Austria, Switzerland, Germany … have contacted us. Also, a great number of football fans from Serbia made contact with us, and I am glad to hear that one eminent tourist agency has organized a commercial charter flight to Oslo. We expect great support at the Ullevall Stadium in one of the most important matches of the Serbian team in the past decade. We have taken all necessary measures for the ticket sale to be according to UEFA standards, i.e. strictly controlled. One football fan can buy total of four tickets and also submit personal documents of all those planning to enter the stadium.”
“One of our strategic priorities for the forthcoming period is to totally change culture of the Serbian football fan and put relation to the national team on a higher level. Further to that, we have performed many actions which results are expected in March already. Our national team players went to visit primary and high schools, got together with pupils and students, distributed presents. Our children love football; we just have to approach them in the right way. We need some new energy on the stands, wind in our sails. Making of the national team cult is a long and complicated process, we are aware that we need time, but we cannot just sit with our arms crossed. We are very interested in cooperation with fan groups and other associations of supporters.”
Many are not aware that there is an association in Serbia named “Gentlemen” and they have not missed one away match of the Serbian team in the last 30 years.
“Those are mature people, educated, family type. There are about 30 of them and each of them is accomplished individuals in their own area of expertise in various companies. Their common passion is football and the national team. They come to the stadium in suits, ties and hats, meet with supporters of opponent teams and demonstrate true sports values. Such fans are always welcome and have the right to identify themselves with the Serbian national team. There has been once a fan group “The Eagles”, I do not know if they exist nowadays. FA of Serbia is ready to shake hands with everyone. We would like to contact associations from diaspora, to hear their opinions, to be at their disposal… Success of Serbia is also success of all of us who wish good for this team.”
Although the match with Norway is on the top of the priority list (and in case we win, also the next one with Scotland or Israel), FAS management also thinks about other big projects expected in 2020.
“In addition to the infrastructural revolution that also implies construction of the national stadium and about ten multifunctional football facilities all over Serbia, one of the greatest challenges is certainly introducing VAR technology. We have set up a committee that is performing site inspections these days and is working on analyses of the existing facilities, all that with support of UEFA and FIFA experts. We will have a full report very soon; stadiums are still not ready, but the situation is getting better and better. It is our wish to get the competition regularity to the highest possible level and take suspicion off the Refereeing Committee. VAR technology introduction process is not simple at all, only the referees training lasts from six to nine months. Everything is going according to the plan, and I cannot say that the video technology will be used at the beginning of the next championship, but I think that we will have all necessary components during the season and open one new chapter in football development in this territory.”
Football Association of Serbia can also be proud of something else. It is the only FA in the region and one of the few in the world with official mobile phone application.
“We try to keep up with the world. We live in the era of social networks; the only way kids get information is through tablets and mobile phones. Simply put, we need to adjust to trends. We made a new version of the website and were complemented by the UEFA IT experts. Now we have started the application, and we continue to work on its further modernization, and we also plan its promotion. In a very simple way, just with one click, our fans can find out about the latest news from the Serbia House of Football, to watch footage of the match where one of our national team player scored a goal, to find some archived information… there will be quizzes, nice gifts, various surprises… We are forcing online ticket sales more and more. We had a full house recently, in the match with Portugal, and 50% of the tickets were sold online. People are reaching out to new ways of communication and we have to respond to all their requests” – stated Šurbatović and added another thing he is especially proud of:
“We are happy to have a very young team of people in our administration. Professionals in our system are younger and soon the number of male and female staff will be balanced. I am pleased to say that there are more and more ladies on leading positions in the FA of Serbia. Not only we are keeping pace with the world, we are actually ahead of time. In every way.”