Check out detailed information about Swiss football, some great Swiss soccer players, football clubs and stadiums
Soccer is the most popular sport in Switzerland. It is governed by the Swiss Football Association, which also organizes the football league and the Switzerland national football team. The Swiss Football Association was formed in 1895 and was among the first football associations founded outside UK. The association was one of the founder members of FIFA in 1904, which has its headquarters at Zurich, Switzerland. UEFA is also based in Switzerland in the city of Nyon.
Swiss football league system
Football league in Switzerland is organized in several leagues, categorized in 8 levels.
- The highest level of the league is Axpo Super League or Swiss Super League. This league is currently ranked in position 16 according to UEFA's league rankings. It was formed in 1897 as Serie A. Since then it has gone through several name transitions. From 1930 to 1931 it was known as 1e Ligue (French) or Prima Lega (Italian). From 1931 to 1944 it was known as Ligue Nationale (French), Nationalliga (German), or Lega Nazionale (Italian). From 1944 to 2003 it was known as Nationalliga A (German), Ligue Nationale A (French), or Lega Nazionale A (Italian). Since 2003 it is called Axpo Super League. This league consists of 10 clubs, with the last club at the end of the season being relegated to Challenge League.
- The second level league is called Challenge League and consists of 16 teams. Until 2003, it was known as Nationalliga B. The winners of this league at the end of the season are promoted to Axpo Super League, while the two teams at the bottom of the league table are relegated to 1. Liga.
- The third level division of Swiss football league consists of 3 groups of 16 teams, by geographical region. Group 1 is made of teams from western Switzerland, Group 2 consists of teams from central Switzerland, while Group 3 contains teams from East Switzerland.
- The forth level of Swiss football league is known as 2. Liga Interregional, and is divided into 6 sub-groups of 14 teams each, by geographical region.
- The fifth level of Swiss football league is known as 2. Liga and is split into 17 groups. Level 6 is called 3. Liga which is divided into 46 groups, while level 7 is called 4. Liga with 74 groups. The lowest level in Swiss football league is 5. Liga which contains 75 groups. From the start of 2012-13 season, the league is proposed to have 10 clubs in Axpo, and 10 clubs in Challenge League.
Swiss football clubs
Soccer clubs in the Swiss football league also includes clubs in Liechtenstein, a country with only 7 clubs and no domestic league. Grasshopper Club Zürich based in Zürich is a Swiss multisports club which also has professional and youth teams for rowing, lawn tennis, field hockey, handball among other sports. This club is the most successful football club in Switzerland in terms of domestic victories. It has won 27 Swiss Championship titles, 18 Swiss cup titles and 2 Swiss league cup titles. Internationally, they became the first Swiss team to play in UEFA champions League in 1995-96 season although they did not make it past the first round.
Fussball Club Basel 1893 commonly known as FC Basel is also among the most successful and popular football clubs in Switzerland. It was founded on November 15, 1893 in Basel. This club has won the Swiss Super League cup 14 times, Swiss cup 10 times and Swiss League cup once. Their home ground is St. Jakob-Park, with their home jersey colors being blue shorts and blue and red stripped shirts. Internationally, FC Basel have reached the quarter finals in UEFA champions league during the 1973-74 season. They also reached the quarter finals stage of UEFA cup in 2005-06 season.
Switzerland national football team
The Swiss national football team is also known as Schweizer Nati in German, Squadra nazionale in Italian and La Nati in French. The team's best performance in FIFA world cup was in 1934 and 1938 when it reached the quarter finals. It also reached the quarter finals in 1954 when Switzerland hosted the world cup. Switzerland also co-hosted the Euro 2008 together with Australia. This team also won silver at the 1924 Olympics.
Switzerland youth teams have been very successful internationally, having won the Under-17 European Championship in 2002, and also the Under-17 world cup in 2009. The national team has participated in 9 FIFA world cups. Their home jersey colors are red shirts and white shorts, while the away colors are white shirt and red shorts. They are currently ranked in position 26 in FIFA world rankings.
Greatest Swiss footballers
Switzerland is home to some of the world's best footballers. Among them being Johan Djourou, Stephan Lichtsteiner, Heinz Hermann, Alexander Frei, Max Abegglen among others.
Djourou was born on January 18, 1987 in Ivory Coast in Africa, and was later adopted by his father's first wife who was a Swiss. His football youth career started at Étoile Carouge in 1998, and later signed for Arsenal youth team on August 2003. In 2004 he made his first senior appearance at Arsenal, although his full premiership debut for Arsenal came much later on 14 January 2006. He currently plays at Arsenal as a centre back, although in 2007-08 season, he was loaned at Birmingham City.
Djourou was a member of the Swiss under-19 team that reached the 2004 European Championship semi-finals. He has also played for Switzerland's under-20 and under 21 teams. He has also made over 29 appearances for the Switzerland national team and scored 1 goal.
Alexander Frei is also a famous Swiss soccer player, who was born on July 15, 1979 in Basel. Frei who plays as a striker, started his soccer career at FC Begnins in 1987, before he moved to FC Aesch and then Basel. In 1997 he started his senior football career at Basel. From Basel, Frei moved to Thun, Luzern, Servette, Stade Rennais, Borussia Dortmund in 2006, and then returned to Basel in 2009. He has scored the most goals for Switzerland with 42 goals from 84 caps. He won the Swiss Player of the Year in 2007, and Swiss Super League Top Goalscorer in 2011.
Football Stadiums In Switzerland
Switzerland has over 60 football stadiums. Below are the 3 largest soccer stadiums in Switzerland.
It was built in 1925, and was the former home ground of BSC Young Boys. The stadium has a capacity of 64,000, making it the biggest football stadium in Switzerland. It hosted several important matches including: FIFA world cup final in 1954, European Cup final in 1961, and Cup winners' cup final in 1989. This stadium was demolished on August 3, 2001.
St. Jakob Park
St. Jakob Park is currently the largest football stadium in Switzerland and is the home to FC Basel. It has a capacity of 42,500 which was increased from 33,433 seats for Euro 2008. The stadium hosted 3 games, 2 quarter finals and one semi final at the 2008 event.
Stade de Suisse Wankdorf
This stadium is the second biggest football stadiums in Switzerland and is the current home of BSC Young Boys. It was officially opened on July 30, 2005. It has a capacity of 31,784 seats.
Interesting facts about Swiss football
- The Blaugrana colors of FC Barcelona are thought to have originated from FC Basel.
- FC Barcelona, was founded by former FC Basel captain called Joan Gamper.
Switzerland national football team was the only team in the 2006 FIFA world cup, who did not concede a goal during regulation time in their matches.