Owner and Army Fight for a Soccer Club’s Name

A Team’s Proud Past

The battle for Steaua Bucharest is a complex tale of greed, money and, quite possibly, revenge. Steaua Bucharest was formed in 1947 and, like many sports teams in Eastern Europe under communism, it was owned and run by a government department. For decades, the team was seen as representing the army, while its biggest rival, Dinamo, represented Romania’s Ministry for Internal Affairs.

When Steaua Bucharest beat Barcelona on penalties to lift the European Cup in 1986, Romania was still under the control of the communist dictator Nicolae Ceausescu. The team would go on to reach the European Cup semifinals in 1988, and it returned to the final a year later. After the fall of communism, however, state ownership of teams became unfashionable, and Steaua was spun away from the army sports association, CSA Steaua Bucharest, in 1998.


Helmuth Duckadam, the goalkeeper, raised the European Cup after the Romanian team beat Barcelona in the final in 1986.

Riccardo/Associated Press

At that point, Becali, a former…

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