If you asked some football fans 23 years ago who BATE Borisov is, not a lot of people would be able to give you the correct answer, except for a few Belarusians who followed their third-tier league.
However, the times have changed, and today, BATE Borisov is one of the well-respected European clubs and a Champions League group stage regular.
In this article, we are going to brush up on the history of one of the most successful clubs in Eastern Europe and a 15-time Belarusian league champion.
It all started in 1973 when a tractor factory in the former Soviet Union decided to create a worker’s football team that would go on to compete in the Belarusian SSR league. The acronym BATE stands for Borisov Automobile and Tractor Electronics.
Although the club was successful in its beginnings by winning three Belarusian SSR league titles in the 70s, it was disbanded in 1984 due to financial difficulties and several years prior to the collapse of the Soviet Union.
In 1996, a successful Belarusian businessman Anatoly Kapsky who was one of the factory owners revived the club with a goal to make it into one of the most successful football powerhouses in the region.
BATE started from the third-tier Belarusian league and easily got promoted to the second league after winning the title. They finished second in the second league next season, but that was enough for the team to get propelled into the Belarusian Premier League.
BATE Borisov won their first title in the Belarusian Premier League in 1999 by winning 77 points and losing only one game out of 30. They picked up their second trophy in 2002, finishing second and third in the previous two years.
However, BATE’s dominant years were yet to come. In 2006, they won a double crown, being the champion in both the BPL and the domestic cup. BATE is currently on a streak of 13 titles, winning two more cups along the way.
Being the Belarusian champion for so many consecutive years, BATE Borisov has earned the right to compete in the Champions League qualifications many times and become the first Belarusian team to qualify for that competition.
They qualified for the group stage for the first time in the 2008/09 season, but won only three points in a group with Real Madrid, Juventus, and Zenit, and dropped out. The Belarusian champs saw no luck in their next four Champions League campaigns, finishing the group stages at either third or fourth place. The furthest BATE got in the Europa league was round of 32 on a couple of occasions.
However, that’s still not bad for a team that comes from a city with less than 150,000 inhabitants.
BATE failed to qualify for the 2019/20 Champions League group stage. They also had the chance to qualify for the Europa League but were kicked out by Astana in the play-off stage.