Football in Romania

Football is the most popular sport in Romania.[1] The Romanian Football Federation (Romanian: Federaţia Română de Fotbal or FRF), a member of UEFA, is the sport's national governing body.

Football in Romania
Governing bodyRomanian Football Federation
National team(s)Men's national team
National competitions
Club competitions
International competitions

League system

Professional league football began in Romania as Divizia A in 1909. The name of the top-flight league was changed to Liga I before the 2006-07 season. Currently, domestic play is organized in a four tier league system comprising Liga I, Liga II, Liga III, and various county leagues.[2]

Liga I

The country's top-flight division is Liga I. The league contains 18 teams, with the champion going into the 3rd qualify round in the UEFA Champions League. The runner-up starts in the second qualify round in the UEFA Europa League, where the 3rd enter the first qualify round. Steaua Bucureşti is the most successful club in the history of Liga I, having won 23 league championships and being runner-up 12 times. Dinamo Bucureşti is the only other club with sustained success in Liga I, having won 18 titles. The four clubs at the bottom of the league table are relegated to Liga II.

Lower divisions

Liga II is divided into two parallel divisions due to economic and logistic reasons, each division containing 16 teams. The top two teams in each division are promoted to Liga I, while the bottom three teams from each division are relegated to Liga III. The second division is currently undergoing format changes, and is expected to consist of a single division of 20-22 teams in the near future.[3]

Liga III contains 108 teams split into six divisions of 18 teams each. The top club from each division is promoted to Liga II. Additionally, two separate three-team playoffs are held involving the second placed clubs from each division, with the playoff winners also being promoted. The bottom three teams from each division are relegated to the county leagues in addition to three of the 15th-placed teams.

Cup competitions

In addition to league, there are three major cup competitions: the Cupa României, open to all Romanian professional football clubs, the Supercupa României, which matches the champions of Liga I and the winners of the Cupa României, and the Cupa Ligii. In case the same team achieves the double by winning both the Liga I and Cupa României, the Supercupa is disputed between that club and the league's runner-up.

Qualification for European competitions

Competition Round Who Qualifies [4]
UEFA Champions LeagueThird QualifyingLiga I Champion
UEFA Europa LeagueThird Qualifying RoundWinner of the Cupa României
Second Qualifying RoundLiga I Runner-up
First Qualifying RoundLiga I Third placed club

Romania national football team

The Romania national football team played its first match in 1922 and is one of only four national teams to have taken part in the first three World Cups, the other three being Brazil, France, and Belgium. Overall, they have played in seven World Cups, most recently in 1998. They have also competed in four European Championships, most recently in 2016. The team's most successful period was in the 1990s when, led by Gheorghe Hagi, they reached the quarterfinals of the 1994 World Cup. They also reached the last 16 of the 1998 World Cup, and the quarter-finals of Euro 2000.

Recent development

In recent years, football in Romania has seen many old, traditional teams in the first division having financial difficulties and eventually leading to relegation and even to dissolution. Examples are teams such as Politehnica Timișoara, Universitatea Cluj, Universitatea Craiova, Rapid București, Petrolul Ploieşti, FC Braşov, FC Argeş, Oţelul Galaţi, Ceahlăul Piatra Neamţ, Politehnica Iaşi or Pandurii Târgu Jiu. They were replaced by teams with less tradition in the first levels of the Romanian league system, such as Botoşani, Concordia Chiajna, Dunărea Călărași, Hermannstadt Sibiu, Juventus Bucureşti, Viitorul Constanța, Sepsi Sfântu Gheorghe or Voluntari.

Dissolved traditional teams were usually re-founded by supporters' associations or by municipalities. The fact that they bore similar names and colors to the original teams made the neutral fans to call them "clones".[5] Some of these teams later re-gained the record and official name of the original ones.

On top of this situation, the country's most successful team, Steaua Bucureşti, lost the right to use its name (and logo) and changed it to FCSB.

However, a number of new, modern stadiums were recently built in the country, with the most notable examples being Arena Naţională, Cluj Arena, Ilie Oană Stadium, Stadionul Ion Oblemenco, Stadionul Tudor Vladimirescu and Stadionul Francisc von Neuman.[6]

See also


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