Football in Turkey
Football is the most popular sport in Turkey, followed by basketball, tracing its roots to the Ottoman Empire. The first matches were played in Ottoman Salonica 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.
|Football in Turkey|
|National team(s)||Turkey national football team|
Turkey's first football league was established as the Istanbul Football League in 1904. Regional football leagues were founded in many other cities such as Ankara, İzmir, Adana, Eskişehir, Edirne, and Trabzon. Before the introduction of the professional nationwide league, known as Süper Lig today, there were two top-level national championships: the former Turkish Football Championship and National Division. Fenerbahçe dominated Turkish football in those decades, having won three Turkish Championship titles and six National Division titles, both of them records. They were replaced by the Süper Lig in 1959.
The Süper Lig (Super League) is the top division in Turkey since 1959. The league contains 18 clubs. The champions receive 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, having won the most titles so far. Galatasaray have won the highest number of Süper Lig trophies (the club won more Süper Lig and Turkish Cup trophies than any other team), while Fenerbahçe have won the most Turkish championship titles in total to date. However, the Turkish Football Federation denies and does not recognise the titles won in the former Turkish Football Championship and National Division, even though they were official championships organised by the TFF itself.
The 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 winners of the Turkish Cup, if not one of the top four, are also given a spot. The three teams with the fewest points each season are relegated to the TFF First League.
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
Amateur clubs are put into leagues included in the Amateur League system and are eligible for promotion to the Turkish Third League.
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 winners of the Süper Lig and Turkish Cup.
Qualification for European competitions
|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 Group stage||Winner of the Turkish Cup||If the winner is already guaranteed a place in Europe, the highest ranked club in Süper Lig which did not qualify to UEFA Champions League will replace them.|
|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
The following teams have made the last eight of European competitions:
European Cup / UEFA Champions League
- Galatasaray (1988–89 – Semi-finals)
- Galatasaray (1962–63 – Quarter-finals)
- Galatasaray (1969–70 – Quarter-finals)
- Besiktaş (1986–87 – Quarter-finals)
- Galatasaray (1993–94 – Group stage)‡
- Galatasaray (2000–01 – Quarter-finals)
- Fenerbahçe (2007–08 – Quarter-finals)
- Galatasaray (2012–13 – Quarter-finals)
‡ Galatasaray was one of the eight teams in the group stage of the 1993–94 UEFA Champions League, however, UEFA does not consider this a quarter-final participation.
UEFA Cup / Europa League
UEFA Cup Winners Cup
Turkish national 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.
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