Football in Albania
Football is the most popular Sport in Albania, both at a participatory and spectator level. The Sport is governed by the Football Association of Albania (F.SH.F.) (Albanian: Federata Shqiptare e Futbollit)
The Albanian league is split into 4 divisions. The Albanian Superliga (Albanian: Kategoria superiore) was formed in 1930. In 1998 took his current name and is the highest level of Albanian Football. It currently comprises 12 teams. The Superliga displaced the First Division (Albanian: Kategoria e Parë) as the top division, and this is now Albanian Football's second tier. Below this is Second Division (Albanian: Kategoria e dyte), which is divided geographically into A & B.
The winners of the league are entitled to compete in the UEFA Champions League at the First qualifying round stage. The runners-up are entitled to compete in the UEFA Cup, also at the First qualifying round stage. KF Tirana hold the record for Albanian league titles, with 24.
The Albanian Football Cup (Albanian: Kupa e Shqipërisë), which is the country's main knockout cup competition, was established in 1939. The winners are entitled to compete in the UEFA Cup, at the First qualifying round stage. The most successful team in this competition, KF Partizani Tirana, has won the cup 15 times.
The Albanian Supercup, which started in 1989, is a single match played at the beginning of the season between the winners of the Superliga and the Albanian Cup. The most successful team in this competition, KF Tirana, has won 9 times.
Albania national team
Founded on 6 June 1930, Albania had to wait 16 years to play its first international match, which was against Yugoslavia in 1946. In 1932, Albania had already joined FIFA (during the congress 12 June - 16 June) and in 1954 it was one of the founding members of UEFA. Albania was invited to play in the 1934 World Cup, but did not take part due to logistical problems.
In addition to the senior football team, the national association places great importance on youth development work. There are championships at various age levels, including U-18, U-16, U-14, U-12 and U-10, while each club in the top 2 divisions is obliged to have a structured youth development programme in place. Moreover, there are regional select teams for all age levels. Albanian Football celebrated its greatest day on 29 March 2003, when the national team defeated Russia 3-1 in a EURO 2004 qualifying match in Tirana. Albanian teams have also recorded impressive results in the past, but major success has not yet come Albania's way. Albanian footballers are in great demand abroad. Some 200 Albanian players play their trade in a number of top leagues in Europe.
The most famous player at the moment is Lorik Cana, Ex-captain of Sunderland in Premier League, England.
History of football in Albania
Football arrived in Albania at the beginning of the 20th century. The first recorded match was between students at a Christian mission in Shkodër. The game increased in popularity and by 1919 the first club, KS Vllaznia Shkodër had been founded. In 1920 SK Tirana was also founded, other towns and cities followed suit and on 6 June 1930 the Football Association of Albania (FSF) was established. The association became a member of football's governing body FIFA in 1932, and joined the UEFA in 1954 as a founding member.
A domestic championship began in 1930 with 6 teams. KF Tirana were the inaugural winners. They, together with such sides are KS Dinamo Tirana, Vllaznia Shkodër and FK Partizani, have continued to dominate the Albanian scene until the present day. The years following World War II saw a new political order, with the introduction of a communist system which had a positive impact as far as the game's appeal was concerned. Football became popularised. Its infrastructure grew stronger as the game was organised and developed in state enterprises, schools, villages and towns. New institutional clubs were founded such as Partizani Tirana (1946) and Dinamo Tirana (1950) (governed respectively by Ministry of Defence and Ministry of Internal Affairs). Until 1990 they were privileged in relation to the other clubs as they were able to get players from other teams.
From 1991, there were crucial political and economic changes that had a tremendous effect on the nation, as the centralised economy and political system came to an end. The result for the country's footballers was an opportunity to play their trade on foreign fields. Neighbouring Greece and the Balkan states were popular destinations for players who were good enough to go abroad.
- Wilson, Jonathan (2011-05-03). "Albania loves football - just not the version played in its stadiums | Jonathan Wilson | Football". theguardian.com. Retrieved 2013-12-02.
- "Albania cast their net wide and reap the dividends « World Soccer World Soccer". Worldsoccer.com. 2013-06-01. Retrieved 2013-12-02.
- Eric Bourne. "How soccer could kick off better ties for Albania and Britain. World Cup match seen as boost to Tirana's bid to resolve old disputes". CSMonitor.com. Retrieved 2013-12-02.
- Football in Albania on UEFA
- League321.com - Albanian football league tables, records & statistics database.