Association football is the most popular sport in Turkey, tracing its roots to the Ottoman Empire. The first matches were played in Selanik, now Thessaloníki, in 1875. The sport was introduced by English residents. The Turkish football league system comprises five professional leagues, one of which is dedicated to female athletes.

League system

Main article: Turkish football league system

Turkey's first professional league was established as the Istanbul Football League in 1904 by James Fontaine. The league ran until 1959, when it was replaced by the Turkish Super League. Football leagues were found especially in Ankara, İzmir, Adana, Eskişehir, Tokat and Trabzon. These leagues were replaced by provincial football clubs beginning in the first half of the 1960s.

Spor Toto Süper Lig

The Süper Lig (Super League), known as the Spor Toto Süper Lig, is the top division in Turkey. The league contains 18 clubs. The champion receives an automatic berth in the group stage of the European Champions League. Galatasaray, Fenerbahçe, Beşiktaş and Trabzonspor are the most successful Turkish clubs that participate in the competition, winning more titles than any other club. Galatasaray has won the highest number of trophies (having won more League and Turkish Cup trophies than any other team). The current Süper Lig champions are Fenerbahçe, who won the 2013–14 season.

This league ushered in clubs from all over Turkey to compete with each other. Currently, clubs finishing in the top four places in the league enter qualifying rounds of European competitions, and the winner of the Turkish Cup, if not one of the top four, is also given a spot. The three teams with the fewest points each season are relegated to the TFF First League.

The top two teams are nominated for Champions League while 3rd place is nominated for UEFA Cup qualifying and 4th place is nominated for the UEFA Intertoto Cup.

A2 leagues

Clubs in the Turkish football league system do not have reserve teams (with the exception of Genclerbirligi). Instead, clubs have under-twenty and under-18 teams which is also used as a reserve team.

Amateur football

Below the four professional leagues in Turkish football are amateur leagues. Amateur football clubs include:

  • Seniors’ First Amateur League: 2145 clubs
  • Seniors’ Second Amateur League: 1743 clubs
  • Seniors’ Third Amateur League: 1 club
  • Women’s League: 9 clubs
  • Juniors’ First Amateur League: 27 clubs
  • Juniors’ Second Amateur League: 100 clubs
  • Juniors’ Super League is divided in 8 regional leagues.
    • Adana: 16 clubs
    • Ankara: 10 clubs
    • Antalya: 10 clubs
    • Bursa: 16 clubs
    • Istanbul: 18 clubs
    • Izmir: 12 clubs
    • Diyarbakir: 7 clubs
    • Trabzon: 13 clubs
    • Samsun: 10 clubs

Amateur clubs are put into leagues included in the Amateur League system and are eligible for promotion to the Turkish Third League.

Cup competitions

The two major cup competitions are the Turkish Cup and Turkish Super Cup. The Turkish Cup includes clubs from every division. The Super Cup is an annual match held between the winner of the Spor Toto Süper Lig and Turkish Cup.

Now-defunct Turkish competitions include Atatürk Cup, President Cup, Chancellor Cup, Istanbul Cup, Fleet Cup, TSYD Cup and Spor-Toto Cup.

Qualification for European competitions

Competition Who Qualifies Notes
UEFA Champions League group stage Club finishing 1st in the Spor Toto Super League
UEFA Champions League third qualifying round Club finishing 2nd in the Spor Toto Super League
UEFA Europa League Third qualifying round Club finishing 3rd in the Spor Toto Super League
UEFA Europa League Second qualifying round Club finishing 4th in the Spor Toto Super League
UEFA Europa League Play-off round Winner of the Turkish Cup If the winner is already guaranteed a place in Europe, the runners-up are sent.
UEFA Europa League Spor Toto Super League club with the best UEFA Fair Play ranking that has not already qualified for Europe, but only if Turkey has the best fair play ranking or has a fair play score of above 8 and is one of the two countries drawn out of the hat

In addition, once in a European competition, it becomes possible to qualify for others:

  • All the losers of the Champions League Third Qualifying Round go forward to the UEFA Europa League Play-off round
  • All the losers of the Champions League Play-off Round go forward to the UEFA Europa League Group Stage
  • Any clubs playing in the Champions League that finish third in the group stage go into the UEFA Europa League Round of 32

European Competition Records

European Cup / UEFA Champions League

UEFA Cup / Europa League

Balkans Cup

Inter-Cities Fairs Cup

UEFA Cup Winners Cup

UEFA Super Cup

Galatasaray (2000 Champion)

Turkish national team

Main article: Turkey national football team

The Turkish national team's first match was on October 26, 1923, and ended in a 2–2 draw against the Romania national football team. Turkey have qualified for the FIFA World Cup twice, in 1954 and 2002. Their greatest success was coming third in the 2002 FIFA World Cup. Turkey also finished third in the 2003 Confederations Cup, reached the semi-finals of Euro 2008 and played in the quarter-finals of Euro 2000.

External links

Football in Turkey
League competitions The TFF Cup competitions
Süper Lig Turkey Turkish Super Cup
First League (U-21) Turkish Cup
Second League List of clubs
Third League List of stadiums
List of leagues
Football in Europe
European Union Other
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