Each year since 2001, a European city has been selected to host the prestigious ‘Capital of Sport’ title, marking a year of special sporting events and inclusive activities. This is a complete list of all host cities from 2001 to 2015;
2001 – Madrid in Spain
Famed for football, bullfighting, tennis and basketball, Madrid was the very first city to host the Capital of Sport honour. The city is best known for its successful football team, Real Madrid who play at the Santiago Bernabeu Stadium, as well as Atlético de Madrid. The city is also home to the birthplace of Spanish bullfighting at the Las Ventas Bullring, which has since seen tighter regulations. And many may not know that there are two major basketball teams in Madrid; Estudiantes and Real Madrid as well as the annual tennis championships Madrid Tennis Master 1000, held each May. Madrid is hotly tipped to host the 2020 Olympic Games.
2002 – Stockholm in Sweden
The most popular sports in Stockholm include football, ice hockey and bandy (wintersports played with a team, much like ice hockey). Whilst the Swedish football; scene isn’t that big outside Sweden, the top ice hockey team Elitserien has achieved international success. In addition, speedway, skiing, riding and golf are also popular.
2003 – Glasgow in Scotland, UK
In summer 2014, Glasgow in the UK will host the Commonwealth Games with 21 different sports. Glasgow however has one main sporting passion – football! The national team plays at Hampden Park, Celtic FC play at Celtic Park and Rangers FC play at Ibrox Stadium. The highlight of the annual football calendar is the "Old Firm" clash between Celtic and Rangers.
2004 – Alicante in Spain
Located in the well-known Spanish Costa Blanca is Alicante, which hosted the European Capital of Sport in 2004. As you’d expect from a Mediterranean city, the sports focus is very much on outdoor activities such as windsurfing, sailing, aquatic skiing and swimming. There are also land based activities such as trekking, hiking and playing golf, with 10 top golf courses located in the area.
2005 – Rotterdam in the Netherlands
Rotterdam is a major harbour and is blessed with an abundance of lakes and waterways, so as you’d expect, the local sports focus on water-based activities. Expect yachting, sailing and kayaking on the main four lakes.
2006 – Copenhagen in Denmark
Much of Copenhagen’s sporting efforts are focussed around the canals and harbour. The canals, as well as offering boat tours, are a great place to canoe and sail. The city beaches of Copencabana and Havnebadet offer a good opportunity to swim and enjoy beach-based activities.
2007 – Stuttgart in Germany
As well as the natural mineral springs, Stuttgart offers excellent windsurfing and canoeing facilities. Try windsurfing against the challenging Atlantic and North Sea winds and try kayaking on the many rivers, including the Enz, Neckar and Rhein. Stuttgart is also famous for its football team, the Fussball Bundesliga Club.
2008 – Warsaw in Poland
Warsaw came to international attention as it hosted the European Football Championship in 2012, along with the Ukraine and various other venues in Poland. As well as football, there are good facilities for tennis, golf and squash.
2009 – Milan in Italy
Home to both AC Milan and Inter FC, the city’s biggest passion has to be football! Devotees flock to the famous Giuseppe Meazza Stadium, aka the mighty San Siro, which both teams share. Basketball is popular in Milan with local team Olimpia Milano and the Vipers play Ice Hockey regularly too. There is also the annual Milan city Marathon at Stramilano, the famous F1 circuit at Monza which hosts the annual Formula 1 Italian leg of the race season and also cycle racing at the Velodromo Vigorelli.
2010 – Dublin in the Republic of Ireland
The home of St Patricks Day is (almost) as passionate about horse racing, football and rugby. Watch both hurling and Gaelic football at Dublin’s main stadium; Croke Park. Catch a Shamrock Rovers football match, watch the Leinster Rugby team at the RDS Arena and take in a horse race or two at Leopardstown Racecourse, which has both National Hunt and Flat racing.
2011 – Valencia in Spain
Valencia is best known for sports such as football, basketball, golf and bullfighting. Football is a real passion in the city, which boasts two top flights teams in La Liga; Valencia CF and Levante UD. Catch a basketball match at Pamesa Valencia and follow in the footsteps of Spanish golfers Severiano Ballesteros and Sergio García with a round at one of the top golf clubs, such as El Saler, El Club Escorpión and El Bosque.
2012 – Istanbul in Turkey
Istanbul is currently in the running to host the 2020 Olympic Games. The city is passionate about soccer with no less than 5 top flight teams playing in the National Premiere League; Fenerbahce, Galatasaray, Besiktas, Kasimpasa, and Buyuksehir Belediye. Istanbul is also a top destination for basketball, motorsports, watersports, boating and horse racing. Istanbul is surrounded the waters of the Black sea, Marmara Sea and the Bosphorus which lends itself perfectly to watersports and water-based activities.
2013 – Antwerp in Belgium
This year Antwerp proudly hosts the European Capital of Sport and will host more than 70 different sports events over the year. There will be running, swimming, cycling and tennis events attended by over 450,000 spectators. Top events this year include the Antwerp 10 Miles and Marathon in April, as well as the Antwerp Iron Man Half Triathlon which is held in July.
2014 – Cardiff in Wales, UK
Cardiff will host the European Capital of Sport honour in 2014 and at the centerpiece will be the impressive Millennium Stadium which is the largest stadium with Europe to have a fully opening roof! Opened in 1999, this is the home of the Wales national rugby union team and where the Six Nations and the Autumn International Series games are played. This year Cardiff hosts the Rugby League World Cup opening matches in October, where Australia play England and Wales take on Italy in a double header. Cardiff also has fantastic facilities for golf, cricket, football and watersports on Cardiff Bay.
2015 – Turin in Italy
As the host city of the Winter Olympic Games in 2006, Turin is no stranger to staging elite sporting events. Torino also hosts the multi-sport World Masters Games in August 2013.