Football in Saudi Arabia

Football in Saudi Arabia
Al-Nasr crowd.jpg
CountrySaudi Arabia
Governing bodySAFF
National team(s)National team
Under-23 national team
Under-20 national team
Under-17 national team
Women's national team
Nickname(s)The Falcons
First played1957
Clubs172
National competitions
Club competitions
International competitions
Audience records
Season2022–23 in Saudi Arabian football

Football is the most popular sport in Saudi Arabia.[1] Football in Saudi Arabia is governed by the Saudi Arabia Football Federation (SAFF) (Arabic: الاتحاد السعودي لكرة القدم). It was founded in 1956.[2] It administers both the club competitions and the national football teams of Saudi Arabia.

The Saudi Arabia Football Federation founder is Prince Abdullah bin Faisal al Saud.

History

National football team

Uruguay-Saudi Arabia match at the 2018 FIFA World Cup in Russia

The Saudi Arabia national football team (Arabic: منتخب السعودية لكرة القدم), is nicknamed as Al-Saqour, which means The Falcons. They are one of the most successful football teams in Asia, winning the Asian Championship three times and qualified to the World Cup six times (1994, 1998, 2002, 2006, 2018, and 2022).

Rivalries

Saudi Arabia has a major rivalry with Iran.

League

The Saudi Professional League is the highest level of competition in the country. In the 1970s, football was organized on a regional basis across Saudi Arabia.[3]

In the 1976 Saudi Professional League season, with the improvement of transportation links and local football, the league was launched on a national basis. Eight clubs participated in the first season of the tournament.

In 1981, a decision was made by the Saudi Arabia Football Federation to increase the number of clubs to 18 clubs, 8 of which take part in the first league, with the other 10 competing in the second league.

In the 1985 season, the number of clubs in the first league was increased to 12.

In 1990, a league cup was introduced, known as The Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques League Cup. It was a two-stage competition, a round-robin and knockout phase. The top four teams (known as the Golden Square) from the round-robin moved to the knock-out phase to compete for the final championship.

In the 2007–08 season, The Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques Champions Cup was introduced for the more elite teams to compete for. Eight teams participate, including the top six teams of the first league, the winner of the Crown Prince Cup, and the Prince Faisal Cup.

Events hosted

National team

National ranking

As of 22 December 2022, Saudi Arabia is placed 49th in the FIFA World Rankings.

Achievements

Leagues of Saudi Arabia

There are four professional football league levels of Saudi Arabia:

The Saudi Professional League was ranked 27th in 2015 by the International Federation of Football.[4]

List of Saudi Pro League champions

No. Season Champion
1 1976–77 Al-Hilal
2 1977–78 Al-Ahli
3 1978–79 Al-Hilal
4 1979–80 Al-Nassr
5 1980–81 Al-Nassr
6 1981–82 Al-Ittihad
7 1982–83 Al-Ettifaq
8 1983–84 Al-Ahli
9 1984–85 Al-Hilal
10 1985–86 Al-Hilal
11 1986–87 Al-Ettifaq
12 1987–88 Al-Hilal
13 1988–89 Al-Nassr
14 1989–90 Al-Hilal
15 1990–91 Al-Shabab
16 1991–92 Al-Shabab
17 1992–93 Al-Shabab
18 1993–94 Al-Nassr
19 1994–95 Al-Nassr
20 1995–96 Al-Hilal
21 1996–97 Al-Ittihad
22 1997–98 Al-Hilal
23 1998–99 Al-Ittihad
24 1999–2000 Al-Ittihad
25 2000–01 Al-Ittihad
26 2001–02 Al-Hilal
27 2002–03 Al-Ittihad
28 2003–04 Al-Shabab
29 2004–05 Al-Hilal
30 2005–06 Al-Shabab
31 2006–07 Al-Ittihad
32 2007–08 Al-Hilal
33 2008–09 Al-Ittihad
34 2009–10 Al-Hilal
35 2010–11 Al-Hilal
36 2011–12 Al-Shabab
37 2012–13 Al-Fateh
38 2013–14 Al-Nassr
39 2014–15 Al-Nassr
40 2015–16 Al-Ahli
41 2016–17 Al-Hilal
42 2017–18 Al-Hilal
43 2018–19 Al-Nassr
44 2019–20 Al-Hilal
45 2020–21 Al-Hilal
46 2021–22 Al-Hilal

Performance by club

No. Club Winners Winning years
1 Al-Hilal
18
1977, 1979, 1985, 1986, 1988, 1990, 1996, 1998, 2002, 2005, 2008, 2010, 2011, 2017, 2018, 2020, 2021, 2022
2 Al-Ittihad
8
1982, 1997, 1999, 2000, 2001, 2003, 2007, 2009
3 Al-Nassr
8
1980, 1981, 1989, 1994, 1995, 2014, 2015, 2019
4 Al-Shabab
6
1991, 1992, 1993, 2004, 2006, 2012
5 Al-Ahli
3
1978, 1984, 2016
6 Al-Ettifaq
2
1983, 1987
7 Al-Fateh
1
2013

Stadiums

Best Player of Asia award

Year Player Club
1994 Saeed Al-Owairan Al-Shabab
2000 Nawaf Al-Temyat Al-Hilal
2005 Hamad Al-Montashari Al-Ittihad
2007 Yasser Al-Qahtani Al-Hilal
2014 Nasser Al-Shamrani Al-Hilal

League system

The Saudi Arabia football association football league system is organized in a pyramidal shape similar to football league systems in many other countries. The principle of promotion and relegation binds the leagues.

Women's football

Women's football is played in Saudi Arabia, but only in the affluent areas, as the country's very restrictive laws (especially those concerning women) inhibit the practice of the sport.[5][6] In February 2020, Saudi Arabia launched a football league for women.[7]

Saudi Arabia football privatization

In November 2016, the government of Saudi Arabia approved plans to turn state-owned sports clubs into private companies.[8] This is part of the economic reforms to reduce Saudi reliance on oil exports and ease financial burdens on the government.[9]

References

  1. ^ "James Dorsey: Soccer Emerges as Focal Point of Dissent in Saudi Arabia". HuffPost. 20 May 2013. Retrieved 18 January 2014.
  2. ^ "Saudi Arabia on FIFA.com". FIFA. Archived from the original on 13 June 2007. Retrieved 24 July 2011.
  3. ^ Jones, Rory (1 May 2013). "Saudi Arabia Seeks to Upgrade Domestic Professional Soccer". The Wall Street Journal. Retrieved 18 January 2014.
  4. ^ "The Strongest League in the World 2015 - IFFHS". 7 January 2016. Retrieved 21 September 2018.
  5. ^ Templin, Jacob (7 August 2012). "Video: The Secret Life of a Saudi Women's Soccer Team". Time. Retrieved 20 September 2012.
  6. ^ Wagner, Rob L. "Women's soccer making headway in Saudi Arabia". The Jerusalem Post. Retrieved 20 September 2012.
  7. ^ "Saudi Arabia launches a soccer league for women". CNN. 27 February 2020.
  8. ^ "Privatization of sports clubs welcomed to bring quality shift in Saudi sports". 23 November 2016. Retrieved 21 September 2018.
  9. ^ El-Erian, Mohamed A. (16 May 2016). "Saudi Arabia's attempt to reduce reliance on oil has the world rapt". The Guardian. Retrieved 21 September 2018.
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