In Norway football is the most popular sport, with over 1822 registered football clubs and over 393,800 registered soccer players. This means that 8.5% of Norway population play organized football. However, it is the third most popular sport in terms of television viewership, coming behind biathlon and cross-country skiing. Soccer was started by Buekorps (traditional marching neighborhood youth organizations in Bergen) in 1883.
The first Norwegian club Idraetsforeningen Odd was founded in 1885 in Skien. The Football Association of Norway (Norwegian football governing body) was founded in 1902 and later become a member of FIFA in 1908. During the same period, Norway played its first international match away against Sweden, where Norway took the lead after just 45 seconds. However, Norway lost the match 11-3.
Norway football league system
Norwegian football league system is governed by football association of Norway, with Tippeligaen being the highest Norwegian league level. The league system is classified in 4 levels.
- Level one, is the highest and consists of Tippeligaen league which has 16 clubs. This league has been sponsored by Norsk Tipping since 1991. Each season has a total of 240 games, where each club plays the other clubs on home and away games. The Tippeligaen league season starts in March and ends on early November. The two teams at the bottom of the league table, at the end of season are relegated to the First division league. The winners of this league enter the second qualifying round of the UEFA Champions League.
- Level two consists of First Division league, and is the second highest division in the league system. The official name of this league is Adeccoligaen, since 2005. Since 2009, the winners and runners-up of First Division league, are automatically promoted to Tippeligaen. The teams that finish in the last 4 positions at the end of the season, are relegated to Second Division.
- Level 3 consists of Fair Play-ligaen, with 56 teams divided into 4 sub-leagues. At the end of the season, the winner of each sub league is promoted to Adeccoligaen, while the bottom three teams in each sub-league are relegated to Third Division League.
- Divisjon or Third Division league is the forth highest league in Norwegian football. This league has 12 parallel sections of the Third Division, with 10 sections consisting of 14 teach each from South of Norway, and the other 2 sections consisting of 12 teams each, from the North of Norway.
Norwegian football clubs
Rosenberg Ballklub from Trondheim city is the most successful club in Norway. It has won 22 league titles and 9 Norwegian cup. Rosenberg's domestic title streak of 13 consecutive wins is the second in the world, behind the 14-year streak of Skonto Riga of Latvia. Both teams' streak was ended in 2005. Rosenberg was founded as Odd in 1917 and since 1947, their home ground has been Lerkendal Stadion. Their home jersey colors are white shirts and black shorts, while the away jersey color is black.
SK Brann, often known as Brann was founded on 26 September 1908 from Bergen. Their home ground is Brann Stadion. Since 1963, Brann won their first championship in October 2007. They have won the Norwegian Premier league title 3 times, and has finished as runners up 5 times. Brann has also won 6 Norwegian Cup titles and finished as runners up 9 times including 2011 season. Their best performance in European games was in 1996-97 UEFA Cup Winners' Cup, where they reached the quarter finals. They also made it to the round of 32 in 2007-08 UEFA cup. Their home jersey color is red while the away one is black.
Norway national football team
The Norway national football team is governed by Football Association of Norway, and its home ground is Ullevaal Stadion in Oslo. As at October 2011, this team was ranked as the 24th best national team in the world by FIFA. This national team has participated in three FIFA world cups: 1938, 1994, and 1998. They also participated in European championship in 2000.
Norway national football team is the only team in the world who has played against brazil and never lost. In fact, Norway beat Brazil 2-1 in 1998 world cup group stage and 4-2 on May 1997. Norway has drawn against Brazil in the other two occasions they have met.
Famous Norwegian footballers
Norway is the home of some of the world best footballers who plays and who have played in top leagues.John Carew, born in September 5, 1979 is a seasoned player currently playing for West Ham United in England. He was born in Norway, although his father was from Gambia. John Carew who plays as a striker, started his football career at Valerenga in 1998. In 1999 he signed for Rosenborg, where he played till 2000 when he moved to Valencia. From Valencia Carew played for Roma, Besiktas, Lyon, Aston Villa, Stoke City, and currently in West Ham United. He has made 91 appearances in the Norwegian side scoring 21 goals.
John Arne Riise is another seasoned Norwegian soccer player, who was born in Ålesund, Norway on September 24, 1980. Riise who plays as a left back, started his football career at Aalesund in 1996. He later joined AS Monaco, before he was sold to Liverpool for £4 million in 2001. Riise then moved to Roma and in 2011 he signed for Fulham. He has made 100 appearances in Norway National football team, scoring 14 goals.
Other famous Norwegian footballers include: Erik Huseklepp, Bjørn Helge Riise, Petter Vaagan Moen and Thorbjørn Svenssen among others.
Football stadiums in Norway
Norway has approximately 23 football stadium. Ullevaal Stadion, with a capacity of 25,572 is the largest stadium in Norway. It is located in Oslo, and it's the home ground for the Norway national football team and Vålerenga club. The stadium was opened on 26 September 1926 as the home ground for Lyn and some few local teams. This stadium hosted the UEFA Women's EURO finals in 1987 and 1997.
Lerkendal Stadion is the second largest stadium in Norway, with a capacity of 21,116 seats. It is the home ground of Rosenborg BK since 1957. It was opened as a multi-purpose stadium on August 10, 1947.
Other noticeable stadiums in Norway include: Viking Stadion, Viking Stadion, and Bislett Stadion.