Last week, Total Waterpolo published that Belgrade would probably host the 2021 Champions League Final Eight.
Today, that news was confirmed by two sources.
Karsten Seehafer, the head coach and the president of the Waspo 98 Hannover, said that Hannover gave up the organization of the F8 due to the difficulties caused by the coronavirus pandemic. He also said that Belgrade was a serious candidate for hosting the Final Eight.
The sources from Serbia confirm that the F8 will be held in Belgrade. The technical organizer will be Water Polo Club Novi Beograd, which reached the LEN Euro Cup eighth-finals this season. Novi Beograd will also organize the F8 tournaments in 2022 and 2023.
“There are still some technical details to be completed, but I can confirm that Belgrade will host the final tournament of the best European clubs from June 3 to 5. We will be the hosts for the seasons 2022 and 2023. I think that is very important for Novi Beograd, as well as for the Serbian club water polo in general. Aleksandar Sostar, the sporting director of WPC Novi Beograd, said for Serbian daily “Sportski Zurnal”.
It is expected that the contract between the hosts and LEN will be signed by the middle of April, Sportski Zurnal writes.
For the first time after many years, the Champions League F8 will be held in a neutral venue (the top four teams from each preliminary group will advance to the Final Eight).
Novi Beograd’s home pool is the Sports Centre “11 April” (pictured). It is a modern pool, which was renovated a few years ago. The capacity of the stands of the pool isn’t big. But, a venue capacity maybe won’t be a necessary factor for the final tournament. It’s most likely that the F8 will be played without spectators.
However, there are several bigger pools in Belgrade, that have already been venues of the big water polo tournaments (Tasmajdan, Banjica, etc).
All details, including a venue of the F8, will be known by the middle of April
Since Belgrade will be the host of the next two Final Eight tournaments, a Serbian club should get a wild card for participation in the Champions League and the Final Eight. There is still no official decision, but it is sure that WPC Novi Beograd, the host of the tournaments, will get the wild card. Novi Beograd is a relatively young club (founded in 2015), but it is growing day after day. The club is guided by Serbian water polo legends. Aleksandar Sapic, one of the best scorers in the history of water polo, is the founder and the head of the club. Vladimir Vujasinovic, the second-best player of the 21st century in the voting for the Total Player Award, has been Novi Beograd’s coach since 2019. Aleksandar Sostar (the 1988 Olympic champion, a member of the International Swimming Hall of Fame, and a LEN Bureau member) joined the management last year.
Several excellent Serbian players arrived at Novi Beograd in the past few years. Milos Cuk, the 2016 Olympic champion, moved from Mladost Zagreb to Novi Beograd last summer. Dusko Pijetlovic and Radomir Drasovic, two of three Serbian stars in Szolnok, signed contracts with Novi Beograd. They will join the club after the end of the current season.