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Steaua fights for name and identity

December 8, 2014

BUCHAREST, Romania (AP) — Romania’s most successful soccer club is fighting to keep its name and military identity following a dispute with the army and a court ruling that has taken away its colors.

Steaua Bucharest, the only Romanian team to win the European Cup and national champion a record 25 times, was forced into anonymity last week.

Last Wednesday, a court ruling banned the Romanian champion from keeping its emblem, name, colors and past results.

The team was identified only as “hosts” for Sunday’s 1-0 victory over CSMS Iasi and played in a yellow strip instead of its usual red and blue.

Hundreds of fans shouted “We are Steaua!” before the match and others hoisted a banner saying “History lives through us!”

That history includes the communist era when the club, founded as an army club in 1948, was supported by Valentin Ceausescu, the elder son of Nicolae and Elena Ceausescu, who were executed in December 1989 during the anti-communist revolt. Steaua won the European Cup in 1986, beating Barcelona in a penalty shootout in the final.

Red Star Belgrade is the only other East European club to have won Europe’s premier club competition. It defeated Marseille in 1991, also in a penalty shootout following a goalless draw.

On Monday, Romania’s defense ministry agreed to a one week reprieve that allows the club to continue using its military identity until December 15.

That means Steaua can use its name, emblem and colors when it plays Dinamo Kiev in a Europa League match in Bucharest on Thursday.

The army is seeking millions of euros for the rights which the owner says he cannot afford.

Steaua is currently top of the Romanian league, nine points ahead of second-placed CFR Cluj.

Owner Gigi Becali is in prison on corruption charges.

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