Split, Croatia, and its surroundings will host the 9th European Universities Games (EUG) in 2028 - this was announced at a press conference held in the amphitheatre of the Faculty of Science in Split

This was announced in the presence of the Rector of the University of Split, Dragan Ljutic, the Secretary General of the Croatian Academic Sports Association Nikola Vincetic, the Mayor of Split, Ivica Puljak, the Prefect of Split-Dalmatia, Blazenko Boban, and the Minister of Tourism and Sports Nikolina Brnjac addressed in turn. 

The EUG will be held over two weeks in July 2028, and will bring together more than 5,000 participants from around 400 universities from some 40 European countries, who will compete in twenty-four sports, and through two more than 60,000 overnight stays during the week of the event in Split. 

The conference was convened on the occasion of the recent hosting of the 9th European University Games, which the Croatian delegation achieved on 20 April in Aveiro, Portugal, when it beat the bids of Manisa, Turkey, and Granada, Spain, at the meeting of the Executive Committee of the European Academic Sports Union (EUSA). 

"I was impressed when I came to Porec for the national finals of academic sports in Croatia a year ago. That impression has stayed with me. For the past year, my colleagues and I have been working to bring the European University Games to Split. I presented all this to the Minister and the Government of the Republic of Croatia, led by the Prime Minister, which ultimately resulted in their significant support," said the host Dragan Ljutic. 

"One year of work has resulted in success - we have won the Games, and I think this is wonderful for our Split and the University. I thank my colleagues, the Government, the Minister, the Prefect and the Mayor of our city, and especially Prime Minister Andrej Plenkovic. Split, as the most sporting city in the world, deserves exactly this," he added. 

Ivica Puljak is the Mayor of Split. UNISPORT.HR
Ivica Puljak is the Mayor of Split. UNISPORT.HR

The bid was supported by the Ministry of Tourism and Sport, headed by Minister Nikolina Brnjac. "For the second time in history, Croatia has been given the opportunity to host this competition, with the great support of the government, which immediately stood behind this bid and secured one million euros for it. This is just a natural consequence of what we have been doing since the first day of our mandate, when we recognised the importance of academic sport and sport in general, and this year we approved a record budget for it," she said. 

"The Government has recognised the need for support at the local level and has started and systematically increased allocations for local sports infrastructure, local sports programmes, children's and youth sports, which we additionally co-finance through the County Sports Associations, as well as major sports events and projects, especially in Split and Split-Dalmatia County," added Nikolina Brnjac. 

In addition to Split, the potential co-hosts of the EUG are the cities and municipalities of Dugopolje, Kaštela, Klis, Makarska, Omis, Podstrana, Sinj, Solin, Trogir and Vrlika, which will host competitions in various sports, and on the water (Lake Perucko, where rowing teams will compete for the first time), sending a wonderful image of Dalmatia to the world, which is particularly pleasing to the Prefect of Split-Dalmatia County, Blazenka Boban. 

"Hosting the European Universities Games 2028 in Split is not only a sporting spectacle, but also an opportunity to show our excellence and hospitality to the world. Through this project, we are building bridges between cultures, promoting healthy lifestyles and encouraging academic cooperation at the European level. I am particularly looking forward to creating an unforgettable experience for all participants," she said. 

"This is an opportunity to show how we can work together, regardless of our differences, to create an atmosphere where every participant feels welcome and valued. Thanks to the support of the Government of the Republic of Croatia, we are investing in the development of sports infrastructure that will make us proud to host this spectacle and will also be available to our young generations of athletes," said Blazenka Boban. 

Dragan Ljutic and Nikolina Brnjac, together at the conference. UNISPORT.HG
Dragan Ljutic and Nikolina Brnjac, together at the conference. UNISPORT.HG

The organisation of the EUG in Split in 2028 aims to increase the availability of accommodation in Split's student halls of residence from the current 1,400 beds to around 2,600. The two new dormitories on the Visoka Campus are the most prominent, while the University's sports infrastructure is represented by the West Campus project, designed as a unique multifunctional sports and recreation zone. The organisation will also benefit from the numerous sports facilities that were built for the Mediterranean Games. 

Croatia is an experienced host of international academic sporting events. In addition to numerous European and world university competitions, the third edition of the European University Games, held in Zagreb and Rijeka in 2016, is noteworthy. Its most outstanding legacy is the renovation of the Stjepan Radic and Cvjetno naselje student settlements in Zagreb, i.e. the construction of new student dormitories on the Rijeka campus. 

Nikola Vincetic, Secretary General of the Croatian Academic Sports Federation, drew a parallel between the two events, highlighting the role played by a large number of staff and volunteers from Split in the organisation of the 2016 Games, who continue to be active in local, national and international academic sports years later. 

"We don't want to be average, and I know from my colleagues that Split is suffering. The Mediterranean Games were the Olympics for Split, because Split decided that. That's why we're going to provoke the whole community to get involved, because, given the nature of this competition, we want to achieve at least the outlines of what MIS79 represented in this area at that time," he said.