Gibraltar Gets 1st Soccer Team In A European Group Stage


Gibraltar will have a team in the group stage of a European competition for the first time after semi-professional club Lincoln Red Imps reached the third-tier Europa Conference League on Thursday.

Lincoln won 3-1 after extra time at the national stadium in its playoff against visiting Riga of Latvia to go through 4-2 on aggregate.

In Fridays group-stage draw, Lincoln will line up with former European champion Feyenoord plus Tottenham and Roma, both former beaten finalists in the European Cup or Champions League.

Lincoln can expect to earn at least 3 million euros ($3.5 million) in UEFA prize money for reaching the group stage. More can be earned from results bonuses.

The 32-team draw in the inaugural competition is being made in Istanbul, Turkey.

Teams from Gibraltar a British territory of about 33,000 people have been able to qualify for European competitions since 2014.

They have lifted the national ranking to No. 49 of UEFAs 55 member federations for collective results in club competitions.

No. 51-ranked Estonia will also be involved in the Europa Conference League, which UEFA created to keep lower-ranked nations involved in its competitions beyond August when the qualifying rounds end.

Flora Tallinn earned its group-stage place by beating Shamrock Rovers of Ireland 5-2 on aggregate.

Both Lincoln and Flora were eliminated from the Champions League and Europa League qualifying rounds before landing in the new competition.

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