Basque Country national football team
The Basque Country representative football team (officially, in Basque, 'Euskal selekzioa') represents the Basque Country in football. It selects players from the Basque Country autonomous community, Navarre and the French Basque Country and is organised by the Basque Football Federation. It is not affiliated with FIFA or UEFA and therefore only allowed to play friendly matches against FIFA or non-FIFA affiliated teams.
|Association||Euskadiko Futbol Federakundea|
|Head coach||Javier Clemente|
|Most caps||1930s: Isidro Lángara (44)|
Modern: Xabi Prieto (14)
|Top scorer||1930s: Isidro Lángara (17)|
Modern: Aritz Aduriz (12)
| Catalonia 0–1 Basque Country |
(Barcelona, Spain; 8 June 1930)
| Denmark 1–11 Basque Country |
(Denmark; 29 August 1937)
| Mexico 8–4 Basque Country |
(Mexico; 16 October 1938)
Basque Country 1–5 Hungary
(Vitoria-Gasteiz, Spain; 31 August 1980)
The team has been referred to by various names including Euskadiko selekzioa, Euskal Herriko futbol selekzioa, Selección de Euskadi, Vasconia, Equipo Vasco, Euskadi XI and Basque XI. Most of their home matches have been played in the San Mamés Stadium which was replaced in 2013 by the new San Mamés.
The Basque Country has had a football team of its own since 1930. During the Second Spanish Republic, they played firstly under the name of Baskoniako selekzioa (the Vasconia team) and then from 1936 as Euzkadiko selekzioa (the Euskadi team). During Franco's 36-year dictatorship it only played two games. After Franco's death in 1975, the team was reformed using the name Euskadiko selekzioa and from the early 1990s began playing regular friendly matches, usually during La Liga's Christmas break. Up to the present time they have played 43 matches against a wide range of FIFA national teams such as Russia, Uruguay, Nigeria and Denmark, plus others against non-FIFA teams of various types.
In 2007, the team's name was controversially changed to Euskal Herriko futbol Selekzioa causing disagreements which led to the annual matches being cancelled. In 2008, a compromise was reached and it was changed again to Euskal selekzioa. In the lower grades (youth and amateur), the team is either called Euskadiko selekzioa or Seleccíon del País Vasco and exclusively represents the Basque Country autonomous community (Euskadi), Navarre competing separately.
Beginnings, the North team (1913)Edit
On 29 September 1913 the Royal Spanish Football Federation was formally created and along with it four regional federations (Norte, Oeste, Este and Centro). Each regional federation organised its own league, and also selected a team to play against other regions. The Basque Country was grouped with Cantabria in 'Norte' (North). As most of the biggest teams in the Norte federation were Basque, such as Athletic Bilbao, Real Sociedad, Real Unión, and Arenas Club de Getxo, so the team fielded by the federation was often composed entirely of Basque players, and was called 'Vasconia', 'el equipo Vasco'(the Basque team), or sometimes just 'Norte'. On 3 January 1915 they played their first match which was against Catalonia in Bilbao and won 6–1, and then on 7 February they played them again but in Barcelona, this time drawing 2–2. On 13 May 1915 they won the inaugural 'Copa del Príncipe de Asturias' tournament in Madrid by beating Catalonia 1–0. In the same competition they drew 1–1 with 'Centro' (a team formed by players from the centre of Spain). In May 1916, 'Norte' faced Catalonia twice in Barcelona, winning by 1–3 on the 21st, and drawing 0–0 on the 22nd. On 4 June of the same year they beat Catalonia 5–0 in Bilbao.
On 22 November 1916 the Cantabrian teams left the North Federation, joining the newly formed Cantabrian Federation (Federación Cantábrica de Clubes de Football), which encompassed Asturian and Cantabrian clubs. In 1918 the province of Gipuzkoa formed its own federation, leaving the province of Biscay on their own in Federation Norte. Gipuzkoa and Biscay organised their own separate teams. In 1919 the Asturians decided to form their own federation (Federación Regional Asturiana de Clubes de Fútbol) so the Cantabrian teams rejoined 'Norte', but now it only had teams from Cantabria and Biscay. This complicated situation of federations splitting off continued for a few more years. In 1922 separate teams were created for Biscay and Cantabria because the former decided to form their own federation (Biscayan Federation).
In the summer of 1922 a team calling itself 'the Basque team' (Equipo Vasco) was sent to South America. Although the trip was organised by the Gipuzkoan federation, 4 of the 19 players in the squad were from the Biscayan federation. They played once against the Argentine national side, losing 4–0, then drew 1–1 against Porteño, and finally winning 0–4 against a team selected from Argentina's interior league. The team also played the Uruguayan national side twice, losing both games, before visiting Brazil where they played in São Paulo and Rio de Janeiro. After the team had arrived back in Spain on 5 October 1922, the players resumed playing for either Biscay or Gipuzkoa. On 12 November 1922, in the Prince of Asturias Cup, Asturias played Biscay in Gijón, drawing 1–1, and the following day Asturias won the replay 4–3. On 18 November 1923, Biscay faced Asturias in Bilbao and won 4–2, but then lost to eventual champions Catalonia, who had already eliminated Gipuzkoa from the competition.
The first Basque team (1930)Edit
It wasn't until 1930 that the Biscayan and Gipuzkoan federations finally came together to create the first permanent team with the name 'Vasconia' ('Baskoniako selekzioa') to represent the Basque Country. Their first game was against Catalonia on 8 June 1930, which they won by 0–1 in Montjuïc, and they played Catalonia again on 1 January 1931 in Bilbao, winning that match 3–2.
During the first year of the Spanish Civil War the Basque team changed its name to Euzkadiko selekzioa. Their first match with that name was against Cantabria on 29 November 1936 in Santander, when the Cantabrians won 3–2. In 1937 the first president of the Basque autonomous region José Antonio Aguirre, who in his youth had been a player for Athletic Bilbao, decided to send a Basque football team abroad with the dual aim of raising money to fund the cost of the civil war, and also as a form of propaganda letting the world know about the conflict in Spain. At the same time a choir called Eresoinka was formed to tour Europe for the same purpose. Money raised was reportedly used to fund a hospital in La Rosarie, France, used by Spanish refugees, and also to help support the thousands of Basque children who had been sent abroad for safety.
The team consisted of the following players:
- Goalkeepers: Gregorio Blasco (Athletic) and Rafael Eguzkiza (Arenas);
- Defenders: Serafín Aedo (Betis), Pedro Areso (Barcelona) and Pablito Barcos (Barakaldo);
- Midfield: Leonardo Cilaurren (Athletic), Jose Muguerza (Athletic), Pedro Regueiro (Madrid), Roberto Etxebarria Arruti (Athletic), Ángel Zubieta (Athletic), Tomas Agirre (Nîmes) and Enrique Larrinaga (Racing);
- Forwards: Jose Iraragorri (Athletic), Emilio Alonso (Madrid), Isidro Langara (Oviedo), Luis Regueiro (Madrid), Ignacio Agirrezabala (Chirri II) (no team), José Manuel Urquiola (Athletic Madrid), Guillermo Gorostiza (Athletic);
- Coach: Pedro Vallana
Also attached to the team were Perico Birichinaga, as a masseur, and Ricardo Irezábal and Manu de la Sota, both as delegates.
The team made its debut on Monday 26 April 1937 in Paris's Parc des Princes against the French champions, Racing Paris, winning 0–3. This happened to be the same day that Guernica was bombed by Nazi Germany's Luftwaffe. In May 1937 they toured France beating Olympique Marseille 2–5, losing 3–1 to Sète, and playing Racing Paris twice more, 3–3 and 2–3.
In May 1937, the team began to have problems with FIFA. Due to the civil war in Spain FIFA had banned all FIFA-affiliated countries and clubs from playing any Spanish teams. A match due to take place on 30 May in the Netherlands against Rotterdam was cancelled by the Dutch Federation. But many clubs and national sides continued to play the Basque team because they sympathised with Republican Spain which the team symbolised. The team's first match against a nation from outside of Spain was a 3–2 defeat, also in May 1937, to Czechoslovakia, who had been runners up in the 1934 World Cup. In June, they played Czechoslovakia again losing 2–1. Then they played Silesia in Chorzów on 9 June.
When Bilbao was captured by Franco's forces on 19 June 1937 the Basque team were in Moscow, having been invited by the Soviet Union's Politburo due to political motivations. They then toured the country during that summer, playing against Lokomotiv Moscow (1–5), Dynamo Moscow twice (1–2) and (4–7), Dinamo Leningrad (2–2), Spartak Moscow (6–2), Dynamo Kiev (1–3), Dinamo Tbilisi (0–2), the Georgian football team (1–3), and finally Dinamo Minsk (1–6). Their only loss was against Spartak Moscow. The Soviet authorities were determined to win the final game in Moscow, so the Spartak team was improved by bringing players from other parts of the country to play for the team just for that match. Lastly they travelled to Norway and Denmark in August where they beat Norway (1–3), Norway AIF (2–3), and completed their biggest win to date against Denmark (1–11).
In the autumn of 1937 the team crossed the Atlantic to play in Mexico where FIFA had given them permission to play clubs and the national side. FC Barcelona had undertaken a similar tour a few months earlier. After playing nine matches in the capital and one in Guadalajara they crossed over to Cuba where their problems with FIFA got worse. FIFA demanded that Cuba should not play the Basque Country. So the Basque team only played club sides, playing four matches, winning one and losing two. Next they travelled to Argentina, arriving on 25 February 1938. They stayed there for three months but officially played no matches due to their problems with FIFA. As they had run out of money and had no way of raising any, many of the big Argentine sides raised money for them. They then crossed the Andes to Valparaiso, Chile, where on 9 May 1938 they played Santiago Wanderers, but the result is not known. Later in May they travelled again to Cuba, this time playing the Cuban national team twice, before returning to Mexico. In the 1938–39 season they played under the name Club Deportivo Euzkadi in the Liga Mexicana de Football Amateur Association, one of the two major leagues in Mexico at that time where they won 7, drew 1 and lost 4 games, eventually coming runners up in the league. The Spanish civil war ended in April 1939 so when the season ended the team was broken up and as a reward each member received 10,000 pesetas. Most of the players stayed on in the Americas and joined teams there.
Franco years (1939–1975)Edit
Between 1939 and 1975 the Basque football team played only twice due to General Franco's dictatorship which severely limited the freedoms previously enjoyed by the regions of Spain. The first time was on 25 June 1966 on the 50th anniversary of Real Unión's founding. A team made up of players from the Basque Country played Real Madrid in the Gal Stadium in Irun, losing 0–2. Playing for the Basque Country were Carmelo Cedrún, (Alarcia), Gorriti, Martínez, Marigil, (Zabala), Azcárate, (Iruretagoyena), Iguarán, Amas, Dionisio Urreizti, Landa, (Chapela), Mauri, (Mendiluce) and Erro. Don Santiago Bernabéu had the honour of kicking off.
The second time was in San Mamés, Bilbao, on 21 February 1971 when a memorial match for Juan Gardeazábal was played between the Basque Country and Catalonia. The Basque Country lost 1–2. Playing for the Basque Country were Zamora, Deusto, Irusquieta, Zugazaga, Echeberría, Lema, Guisasola, Estéfano, Santamaría, Arambarri, Ibáñez, Marañon, Fernando Ansola, Araquistáin, Rojo II, Urtiaga, and Ortuondo.
The first game following the dictatorship was played on 2 March 1978 in San Mamés against the USSR. The team were called the 'Selección Vasca' and drew 0–0.
On 16 August 1979 they played under the name 'Euskadiko selekzioa' for the first time since 1938 at San Mames stadium during the Great Week of Bilbao, winning 4–1 against a League of Ireland XI. Controversy was caused before the match by the Spanish government deciding that the song of the Basque football Team (Gernikako Arbola – The Tree of Guernica) should not be sung before the game. This resulted in Carlos Garaikoetxea (the Lehendakari, head of the Basque regional parliament), the presidents of the regional councils and the mayors of the Basque capitals, all leaving the presidential box to sit elsewhere in the stadium to show their protest. CA Osasuna was the only club with players called up for the match who refused to release them. Iraragorri and Langara (two players from the 1937 team) kicked off, and Iribar served as captain. The game was played as a fundraiser for a campaign promoting the Basque language called "Bai Euskarari", organized by Sustraiak, as a response to its suppression during the dictatorship.
A few months later the Basque team won again, 4–0 against Bulgaria in San Sebastian's Atotxa Stadium. In 1980, in Vitoria, they lost 1–5 to Hungary. Other key matches included defeats to Cameroon (0–1) and Wales (0–1), and victory over Serbia (4–0). Then, in 2007, after 69 years without playing outside Spain, the Basque Country faced Venezuela in San Cristóbal, winning 4–3. Prior to this, their last game outside Spain had been in June 1939, in the Spanish Civil War era against Club Atlético Corrales in Mexico City.
Name change (2007)Edit
In 2007 the team's name was changed to 'Euskal Herria' (Euskal Herriko Futbol Selekzioa), and on 29 December they played a match against Catalonia in San Mames. The result was Euskal Herria 1, Catalonia 1.
The name change, driven by the Basque Football Federation, was denounced by politicians from the Basque Nationalist Party (PNV), including the Lehendakari, Juan José Ibarretxe, and also the main Spanish political parties such as the Partido Popular (PP) and PSOE. For this reason the Basque Football Federation proposed returning to the team's previous name, 'Euskadi' (Euskadiko Selekzioa), for the match scheduled for December 2008 against Iran. 165 Basque players signed a statement announcing that they would not play unless the team was called 'Euskal Herria'. The controversy went beyond the sports arena and against this statement were positioned many political parties such as the PNV, PSE-PSOE and PP, and supporting it were Eusko Alkartasuna, Ezker Batua and Eusko Abertzale Ekintza. At the heart of this dispute were the meanings of the two terms 'Euskadi' and 'Euskal Herria'. For the politicians of the PNV who favoured the name 'Euskadi', they saw this as the historic name used by the Basque football team since the 1930s and geographically they said it always included the Spanish Basque Country, the French Basque Country and Navarre (from where the players are selected), but to the players and the politicians supporting them, only the term 'Euskal Herria' had this geographic meaning and to them 'Euskadi' only referred to the Spanish Basque Country. This difference of opinion encompassed the nuances of the names, their history known or unknown, and changing public opinions towards what name should be used when referring to all people of Basque culture. In the end the match was cancelled.
In 2009 a consensus was reached to use the name 'Euskal Selekzioa'. However, discrepancies between the federation, players and ESAIT led to the match, scheduled again to be played against Iran, not to be played. In 2010 however, although there was still no agreement between players and federation, the players agreed to play the match to be played on 29 December in San Mames, between the Basque Country and Venezuela, which ended 3–1. At this match the gold badge of honour of the Basque Football Federation was presented to Joseba Etxeberria, former player of Athletic Club Bilbao, for being the most capped player of the Basque team, and he was allowed to take the kick-off.
In 2011 the Basque football team played two matches. Firstly on 25 May they visited Estonia, winning 1–2, then on 28 December they played their last game in the old San Mamés against Tunisia, losing 0–2.
On 28 December 2014, a centenary match was played in San Mames against Catalonia to celebrate 100 years since the first match between these two sides. The game ended 1–1. The same teams played a year later, with Aritz Aduriz scoring the only goal in a 1–0 Basque win in Barcelona.
In October 2017, the federation confirmed that the Basque team would not play a friendly match in late December that year as had become traditional, but instead would look to schedule a fixture during one of the FIFA International Match Calendar dates, possibly in March 2018. However, a proposed meeting with Chile did not come to pass. Eventually, a fixture was arranged for the Basque team to face Venezuela in October 2018 at Mendizorroza. A match against Panama was scheduled for May 2019.
FIFA and UEFA membershipEdit
Several organisations including the Basque Government and the Basque Football Federation are trying to persuade FIFA and UEFA to accept the Basque Country as an affiliated member. There is a lot of support for this within the Basque Country.
The United Kingdom provides one model for a sovereign state with more than one FIFA member, while the Faroe Islands is an example of an autonomous constituent country having a separate football team to the national team (Denmark).
- For a list of recent Catalonia national team players, see here
- For a list of players from the Basque region who have represented FIFA national teams, see here
Due to the unofficial status of the Basque Country team and others, many of the usual conventions of international football do not apply. Players who have already appeared for a FIFA national team can play for the Basques in addition, but if they are simultaneously called up for both, the FIFA squad (usually Spain) takes precedence. Clubs are also not obligated to release their players, and the request is sometimes refused by clubs outwith the Spanish leagues, or when the fixture takes place during the domestic season and the club has important upcoming fixtures. Eligible players can also choose not to be involved. This means the Basque squads are frequently below what would be considered their 'full strength', but also means those who do take part are fully committed to the concept, and in many cases would have no other opportunities to experience international football so consider the match to be an important matter. This contrasts with their opponents, as the fixture does not contribute to their Association ranking points or individual cap totals and is thus one of the least significant matches out of several they would play each year. In combination with home advantage for the Basque team in most of their fixtures, this has led to the results falling in their favour more often than might be expected compared to other nations perceived to have a similar standard of players.
Veteran coach Javier Clemente became manager of the Basque Selection in March 2019. At his presentation, he spoke of plans to invite players with Basque heritage (including those from other parts of Spain like Marco Asensio) to play for the team, in line with the grandfather rule used by FIFA national teams.
- Caps and goals as of October 13, 2018
|No.||Pos.||Player||Date of birth (age)||Caps||Goals||Club|
|GK||Jon Ander Serantes||24 October 1987||1||0||CD Leganés|
|GK||Asier Riesgo||6 October 1983||11||0||SD Eibar|
|DF||Martín Aguirregabiria||10 May 1996||1||0||Deportivo Alavés|
|DF||Anaitz Arbilla||15 May 1987||1||1||SD Eibar|
|DF||Yuri Berchiche||10 February 1990||5||0||Athletic Club|
|DF||Aritz Elustondo||28 March 1994||1||1||Real Sociedad|
|DF||Iñigo Martínez||17 May 1991||7||0||Athletic Club|
|MF||Javier Eraso||22 March 1990||3||0||CD Leganés|
|MF||Dani García||24 May 1990||4||0||Athletic Club|
|MF||Manuel García||26 April 1986||2||0||Deportivo Alavés|
|MF||Asier Illarramendi||8 March 1990||4||1||Real Sociedad|
|MF||David Zurutuza||14 August 1986||5||0||Real Sociedad|
|MF||Mikel Vesga||22 March 1990||1||0||CD Leganés|
|FW||Aritz Aduriz||11 February 1981||12||12||Athletic Club|
|FW||Jon Bautista||3 July 1995||1||1||Real Sociedad|
|FW||Ibai Gómez||11 November 1989||4||2||Deportivo Alavés|
|FW||Luca Sangalli||10 February 1995||1||0||Real Sociedad|
|FW||Iñaki Williams||15 June 1994||1||0||Athletic Club|
The following players have played for the team in the last two matches.
|Pos.||Player||Date of birth (age)||Caps||Goals||Club||Latest call-up|
|GK||Gorka Iraizoz||6 March 1981||12||0||Girona FC||v. Tunisia, 30 Dec 2016|
|GK||Oier Olazábal||14 September 1989||1||0||Levante UD||v. Tunisia, 30 Dec 2016|
|DF||Ion Ansotegi||13 July 1982||7||0||retired||v. Corsica, 27 May 2016|
|DF||Mikel Balenziaga||29 February 1988||5||0||Athletic Club||v. Tunisia, 30 Dec 2016|
|DF||Eneko Bóveda||14 December 1988||3||0||Deportivo La Coruña||v. Tunisia, 30 Dec 2016|
|DF||Gorka Elustondo||18 March 1987||2||0||Rayo Vallecano||v. Corsica, 27 May 2016|
|DF||Xabier Etxeita||31 October 1987||3||0||SD Huesca||v. Tunisia, 30 Dec 2016|
|DF||Javier Garrido||15 March 1985||2||0||retired||v. Corsica, 27 May 2016|
|DF||Mikel González||24 September 1985||7||0||AEK Larnaca FC||v. Tunisia, 30 Dec 2016|
|DF||Carlos Gurpegi||19 August 1980||6||1||retired||v. Corsica, 27 May 2016|
|DF||Mikel San José||30 May 1989||6||0||Athletic Club||v. Tunisia, 30 Dec 2016|
|DF||Joseba Zaldúa||24 June 1992||2||0||Real Sociedad||v. Tunisia, 30 Dec 2016|
|MF||Markel Bergara||5 May 1986||5||1||Getafe CF||v. Corsica, 27 May 2016|
|MF||Ander Iturraspe||8 March 1989||6||0||Athletic Cub||v. Tunisia, 30 Dec 2016|
|MF||Mikel Oyarzabal||21 April 1997||1||1||Real Sociedad||v. Tunisia, 30 Dec 2016|
|MF||Xabi Prieto (captain)||29 August 1983||14||0||retired||v. Tunisia, 30 Dec 2016|
|MF||Mikel Rico||4 November 1984||4||0||Athletic Club||v. Corsica, 27 May 2016|
|MF||Markel Susaeta||14 December 1987||7||1||Athletic Club||v. Tunisia, 30 Dec 2016|
|FW||Ander Capa||8 February 1992||4||0||Athletic Club||v. Tunisia, 30 Dec 2016|
|FW||Sabin Merino||4 January 1992||2||0||CD Leganés||v. Tunisia, 30 Dec 2016|
|FW||Iker Muniain||19 December 1992||3||1||Athletic Club||v. Tunisia, 30 Dec 2016|
|FW||Gaizka Toquero||9 August 1984||7||2||Real Zaragoza||v. Tunisia, 30 Dec 2016|
Results and fixturesEdit
- Latest result:
|12 October 2018||Basque Country||4–2||Venezuela||Vitoria-Gasteiz|
Referee: Undiano Mallenco
- Next fixture:
All-time team recordEdit
- As of 13 October 2018
- A draw counts as a ½ win
- Includes a friedly match against former FR Yugoslavia on 26 December 1997
The Elo rating system was adapted for football by adding a weighting for the kind of match, an adjustment for the home team advantage, and an adjustment for goal difference in the match result.
Its estimated Elo is 1886 (fantasy rank: 16th; 31 December 2018). Its highest Elo were 1892 points (after winning against Mexico on 30 October 1938).
At that time it would have been the third world national football team in the World behind Italy and Argentina; and above Scotland, Spain, England, Hungary and among those.
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- Gotzon, Joseba. 100 Años Seleccion Vasca De Futbol 1915-2015. Book 3. pp. 156–170.
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- "Mexico, Julio 29". El Siglo del Torreón, 30 July 1938. Retrieved 4 August 2014.
- "1938–39". rsssf.com. Archived from the original on 2 April 2015. Retrieved 1 September 2014.
- "El Real Madrid Derrota a la Seleccion Vasca por 2–0". ABC Newspaper, 28 June 1966. Retrieved 25 June 2014.
- diariovasco.com. "Ferenc Puskas sí llegó a jugar en el Stadium Gal".
- "Real Madrid's records". in Spanish. Retrieved 24 June 2014.
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- "El Pais newspaper archive 17/8/79 in Spanish". Retrieved 25 June 2014.
- "El Osasuna justifica la ausencia de Iriguibel en la seleccion de Euzkadi". ABC newspaper, 18 August 1979. Retrieved 25 June 2014.
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- "Los Vascos y los Paraguayos en un empate a 4 goals". El Siglo del Torreón, 19 June 1939. Retrieved 4 August 2014.
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- "Euskadiko Futbol Federakundea - Federación Vasca de Fútbol". www.eff-fvf.eus.
- "Selección Vasca irá con todo en el amistoso contra Perú" [Basque team will go with everything in the friendly against Peru]. Peru.com (in Spanish). 11 November 2013.
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- "Catalonia and Basque Country reignite call for independent national football identities". The Telegraph. 30 December 2013. Retrieved 28 June 2014.
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Media related to Basque Country association football team at Wikimedia Commons
- Basque FA – with results from 1990 (in Basque) (in Spanish)
- Euskal Selekzioa Online (in Basque) (in Spanish)
- All-time results at Rec.Sport.Soccer Statistics Foundation
- Search Mexican Newspaper archive for matches (pages cannot be linked individually)
- Basque National Football Team as a Political Tool, 2016 study by the National Institute of Sport Research (Romania)