Football in Cape Verde

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Governing body Federação Caboverdiana de Futebol
International competitions

Football is the most popular sport in Cape Verde.[1] The league is divided into eleven divisions, of which seven of them are singles and two islands, Santiago and Santo Antão has two zones since 2000. The football association is a federation which is known as Federação Caboverdiana de Futebol, it became affiliated with CAF in 1986 and later with FIFA in 2001.


The divisions numbers eleven on nine islands, seven has an island league and two contains two zones each along with the cup, super cup and opening tournament competitions.

Island leagues[edit]

The light blue indicates a league having first and second divisions.

Boa Vista Brava Fogo Maio Sal Santiago (North)
Santiago (South) Santo Antão (Ribeira Grande) Santo Antão (Porto Novo) São Nicolau São Vicente

Regional cups[edit]

Boa Vista Brava Fogo Maio Sal Santiago (North)
Santiago (South) Santo Antão (single) Santo Antão (North) Santo Antão (Porto Novo) São Nicolau São Vicente

Regional super cups[edit]

Boa Vista Brava Fogo Maio Sal Santiago (North)
Santiago (South) Santo Antão (single) Santo Antão (North) Santo Antão (Porto Novo) São Nicolau São Vicente

Regional opening tournaments[edit]

Though equivalent to the League Cup used in other countries, Cape Verde are one of a few nations being labelled as an "opening tournament" challenge. Some have become known as an Association Cup. The light blue indicates a competition having first and second divisions, clubs in different divisions competes in the tournament of the same division (ex. when a club is in a first/premier division, participates in the first/premier division Opening Tournament/Association Cup).

Boa Vista Brava Fogo Maio Sal Santiago (North)
Santiago (South) Santo Antão (single) Santo Antão (Ribeira Grande) Santo Antão (Porto Novo) São Nicolau São Vicente

Italics indicate that the tournament is not held.


Football (or soccer) was first introduced around the 1910s. CS Mindelense based in the island of São Vicente is the oldest club in Cape Verde founded in 1919 and became official member on May 25, 1922, soccer was first played, the second oldest is FC Derby founded in August 5, 1929, later in the year on December 5, Santiago Island's first football club named Sporting Clube da Praia was founded, two years later on the same city, Vitória FC was founded, two of the clubs were the first named after a Portuguese club. Official competition did not start until 1938 and Mindelense was the first club to win a regional title, the colonial title was then official.

National championships[edit]

The first all-island football competition began in the early 1950s and CS Mindelense won their first title in 1953, then, these competitions were territorial since it was an overseas province of Portugal until its independence on July 1975. Before, only the São Vicente competition existed which began in 1937 and lasted until 1953. A club from São Vicente and Santiago islands were its only entrants. Several competitions were cancelled including in 1954 and between 1956 and 1957. Another cancellations occurred when the last game before independence played and won their last title. Unlike other Portuguese overseas province at the time, Mindelense was the only club ever competed in the Portuguese Cup competition and only participated once in 1971, the least of any overseas province (later autonomous provinces) in the Portuguese Empire. The first game after independence was in 1975 and their first title was claimed by CS Mindelense in 1976. The last two cancellations occurred in 1979, 1982 and 1986. From 1976, a club from any of the islands could participate.[2]

In the early 1980s, the creation of more soccer teams led to creating a new division in the 1990s which became based by island except for one of them at the time there were only six and later seven, of which one of them qualified for the two groups. In the mid-1990s, the division were divided into nine which qualified into three groups, A, B and C, and now eleven new insular zones were added for Santiago and Santo Antão and Group C was eliminated reducing to its current two-grouping system. For several times, the champion would be decided on the highest number of points and goals in 2001 and 2002, the highest number of points ever was 19, nine clubs took part in the national championships up to 2003. Sporting Praia holds the highest number of goals scored in the regular season and the total number of 35 in 2005. Also in the season, Sporting Praia scored 13-0 over Desportivo Estância Baixo making it the highest scoring match in the national champioknships and still stands today. The champion of the year would complete in the following year's national competition which began in 2005 and raised the total of national championship clubs to twelve, a number stands today. The 2009 season would be the first final competition that featured two clubs from a single island (Santiago) or city (Praia), it would held again in 2010 and recently in 2015 (Derby and Mindelense from Mindelo in the island of São Vicente), the most final match features with two of the clubs was with Sporting Praia and Mindelense four times (in 1977, 1988, the next was Mindelense and Botafogo (in 1976, 1980 and 1981) three times and Mindelense and Académica do Porto Novo (in 2012 and 2016). Sporting Praia and CS Mindelense each won four consecutive titles, the first Sporting Praia between 2006 and 2009 and Mindelense since 2013.

CS Mindelense holds the most number of national titles won numbering twelve, Boavista Praia holds the most number of national cup titles numbering two. Académica Porto Novo.

Island/Regional competitions[edit]

In around 1995, Santiago's South zone became the first zone ever to feature a first and second divisions, followed by Fogo, São Vicente, Northern Santo Antão in the 2000s and recently Sal in 2014. Northern Santiago league is the only league to have the first and final phase competitions, the north and northcentral groups existed in the early years and in around 2010, the group system were eliminated and up to 2015, all 13 clubs competed in the first phase and the top four elevates to the second phase and the winner was decided on the highest number of points and goals. Garridos is the only club to change regional divisions from Northern to Southern Santiago in 2011 as its location is in the south of the island. In the early 2010s, instead of two clubs directly relegating, the promotional/unelevated matches were introduced and a two-match system are featured in the regional championships of Fogo, Santiago North and South (not in 2016) Zones and São Vicente, the club with the most points either stays or be promoted, the club with the least either be promoted or not be promoted in the following season.

The most number of clubs of any island/regional league is Southern Santiago, the fewest is Brava, Maio once held it until 2015.

In the early 2010s, Cape Verde would contain around a hundred football clubs in 11 regional competitions, some of them with two divisions. In 2014, six new football clubs were added to the Sal Island League and the second division was formed., a year later in 2015, nearly all of the clubs (one of them was suspended) returned to the competition in the Santiago North Zone, some new clubs were added and the two division system were established, the regional league featured a 26 match season and saw some records in goals, wins and points got by some clubs, the 2015-16 Santiago North Zone season was the longest regional season of any of the regional leagues in the country, Varandinha was the 2015/16 winner with a record number of points, the South Zone of Santiago was the second longest and the third longest being Fogo. Until 2015, Maio had the shortest regional season of any of the regional leagues in the country, Brava has the shortest since that time. The length of the season of the Santiago North Zone is now the same as the Santiago South Zone. Some of the second division matches takes places in May and up to June especially Santiago North.

Cup, Super Cup and Opening Tournament competitions[edit]

The opening tournaments as well as its insular cup and super cup competition were added in 1999 in most of the nine islands, Boa Vista was the last one in which the cup and super cup competition were created in 2011 The Super Cup competitions features a regional champion and a regional cup winner. In some seasons when a club wins a championship and a cup title, the second place cup title participates. The Opening Tournament (equivalent to a League Cup) only features one portion where a club competes once with a different club of the two divisions, in São Vicente (including tjhe adjacent islands), it is known as the Association Cup and features two divisions with one portion where a club competes once with a different club, these take place at the start of the season a month (or two) before the regional championships begin.

National cup competitions includes the main Cape Verdean Cup which began in 2007 and was held for four seasons, the 2009 and 2011 competition were cancelled and since 2013 and the Cape Verdean Independence Cup. The Cape Verdean Super Cup was held in 2013 between a championship and a cup winner, Sporting Praia faced Onze Unidos and Sporting Praia claimed their only title, the 2014 edition was challenged with the country's second greatest team Sporting Praia.

CAF competitions[edit]

The winner of the national championship takes part in the CAF Champions League the following season, the second place club takes part in the CAF Confederation Cup, the first was in 1991 and their recent was Sporting Clube da Praia in 2009. For some years, a champion and a second place club did not appear in the African competition especially between 2002 and 2005, between 2010 and 2015. Once Sporting Praia, a non-champion took part in the 2000 edition. The second place took part in the CAF Cup and the CAF Winner's Cup, from its merger in 2004 until 2015, neither took part in the CAF Confederation Cup. CS Mindelense is uncertain to qualify into the 2017 CAF Champions League. As the Cape Verdean Cup was created in 2007, no cup winner took part in the Confederation Cup, as the Cape Verdean Cup was cancelled since 2013, it is uncertain that a club will qualify in the 2017 CAF Confederation Cup. A total of five clubs participated including Sporting Praia, Mindelense, FC Derby, Boavista Praia and Travadores, only one club SC Atlético was disqualified due to that the football federation did not name the entrant on time.

Seasons in Cape Verdean football[edit]

2010s: 2010-11 2011–12 2012–13 2013–14 2014–15 2015–16

National championships[edit]

1970s: 1976 1977 1978
1980s: 1980 1981 1983 1984 1985 1986 1988 1989
1990s: 1990 1991 1992 1993 1994 1995 1996 1997 1998 1999
2000s: 2000 2001 2002 2003 2004 2005 2006 2007 2008 2009
2010s: 2010 2011 2012 2013 2014 2015 2016

See also[edit]