Pisa FC is currently one point off of a promotion playoff spot in the Italian Serie B. This would be a remarkable achievement for a team that has been in the Italian Serie C eight times in the past decade and has not been in the top flight since the 1990/91 season. They have done this using a collection of promising youngsters purchased from top clubs Juventus, Sassuolo and Inter Milan as well as seasoned veterans, such as forty year-old striker Davide Moscardelli, who has perhaps the biggest beard of any soccer player. Pisa have a chance to change the club’s history and maybe change the status from obscure, which would be a huge boost for a city mainly known for something that can’t stand properly.
Anyway, here are five famous tourist cities with (relatively) obscure soccer teams. I’ll try to avoid the obvious ones, like Paris FC or 1860 Munich.
Located in the huge canal city of Venice, which gets almost twenty million tourists every year, Venezia FC have been in the first tier just once since the turn of the century. That was the 2001/02 season, which was a disaster as they finished in eighteenth place with just eighteen points. Since then, they have bounced back and forth between the second, third and (briefly) fourth tiers and have been in the Serie B for three seasons now, and came close to earning a fourth consecutive promotion, going from fourth tier to almost the first tier in the 2017/18 season, as they finished fifth and barely lost a promotion playoff game to fourth placed Palermo.
Venezia FC have one of the coolest stadiums in the world as well, since it is surrounded by the famous canals.
Istanbul draws an average of around fourteen million tourists a year, famous as a city separated by the Bosporus Strait between Asia and Europe. This has helped the city’s soccer clubs, as Besiktas and Galatasaray have been the stars on the European side of Istanbul and Fenerbahce is the best club on the Asian side. Even newcomers Istanbul Basaksehir have been superb, but Istanbulspor has avoided the spotlight as well as the success. They were formerly owned by rich owners but the club was seized by the government after financial difficulties.
They have struggled since then and are currently languishing in thirteenth place in the second tier.
It’s hard to get any information on Panthiraikos FC. Located on the tourist island of Santorini, Greece, Panthiraikos play in the third tier of Greek soccer. According to panthiraikos.gr, the club were founded in 1969. They tried to join the Piraeus Football League in 1972 but they were denied membership. They tried to start their own league but they couldn’t because of financial difficulties. Panthiraikos won Cyclades tournaments in the 2015/16 season and have begin to climb the ladders in Greece. They have a chance to soon be promoted to the second tier, but for now they are practically non-existent outside of the Cyclades.
Delhi United SC
Delhi has the eleventh highest tourist rate in the world and one of the highest populations with over thirty million residents, per CNN and IndiaPopulation2020. India is one of the biggest countries in the world, which is why it’s surprising their soccer leagues have not been very good. Especially considering the amount of money that India puts in cricket, it seems strange that they wouldn’t invest much money. But even considering all that, India’s second most populated city having a second tier team is absurd.
The country has decided to morph their top two leagues together into one big first tier, which still does not include Delhi United. However, with Indian soccer evolving, don’t be surprised to see Delhi United be a massive club in several years.
Shenzhen, China is surprisingly one of the biggest tourist cities. This is due to its proximity to Hong Kong, but Shenzhen also has become a rich, modern city. This does make it surprising that Shenzhen FC has not become a big team yet, despite being founded in 1994. The team is in the second tier but might soon become a powerhouse, as it already has notable names in former Colombia Olympics player Harold Preciado, and former Saint Ètienne midfielder Ole Selnæs.
With the signing of some key players, following the path of Shanghai SIPG who signed Oscar and Hulk, Shenzhen could become one of the biggest teams in China.
So those are five tourist cities with obscure soccer teams. If you want to see a second edition of this article, a recommendation for an article, or just any questions for me, please leave a comment. Don’t worry if your comment does not show up, all comments must be approved due to the amount of spam comments received. I hope you enjoyed, and as always, keep watching soccer!