Information on Spanish Soccer League. Learn about Football in Spain and discover the best Spanish soccer teams and players in the world.
In 1925 professional Spanish soccer was legalized and the most important clubs organized the birth of La Liga. After much discussion regarding which teams should form part of the championship, an agreement was made on November 23, 1928 which officially established Spain’s national football divisions. Since then there have been some minor alterations to the format. Professional Spanish Soccer is commonly referred to as simply La Liga (the league) but its official name is Liga de Fútbol Profesional (Professional Football League). Spain’s La Liga is undoubtedly the most important league in Spain and one of the most popular sport leagues in the world.
Professional Spanish soccer is divided into: Primera División (First Division) and Segunda División (Second Division). The First Division is also known as Liga BBVA, for sponsorship reasons, while the Second Division is officially called Liga Adelante. The First Division consists of 20 professional soccer teams and the Second Division has 22. There are also lower Spanish national football divisions. Every year, the three lowest ranked teams in the First Division pass to the Second Division and the top three ranked teams in the Second Division pass to the First Division. Only three professional football teams have never descended to Second Division: Real Madrid, FC Barcelona and Athletic Bilbao.
Spanish national football is a serious business with an average attendance of over 29,124 spectators per match in the 2007 to 2008 season. These numbers rank Spanish soccer as the eighth highest of any domestic sport league in the world and the third highest of any professional soccer league.
The biggest and most important clubs are Real Madrid and FC Barcelona, who have dominated the championships since the 1950s. As of 2010, Real Madrid has won La Liga 31 times versus Barcelona’s 20 wins. Other clubs to have been declared Spanish League champions at least one time are: Atlético Madrid, Athletic Bilbao, Valencia, Real Sociedad, Deportivo, Sevilla and Real Betis. In total, 59 teams have competed in La Liga.
The competition lasts from September through June each year in which each soccer club will face each other twice for a total of 38 soccer games in the First Division and 42 matches in the Second. The points are assigned to the teams as follows: three points for a win, 1 point for a tie, and no points for a loss. The Spanish soccer teams are then ranked by total points to determine the league champion. In the case of a tie for first place, there are detailed rules used to determine the winner.
The results of the Spanish National Football League are used to determine entry into European soccer competitions. The top professional soccer teams of the First Division are qualified for the UEFA Champions League and the fifth and sixth placed teams are eligible for the UEFA Europa League.
There is also a domestic national championship called the Copa del Rey (The King’s Cup) in which teams from both upper and lower divisions play against each other in a Spanish national football competition. Whenever possible, the King of Spain is present at the final soccer match and personally awards the trophy to the winners.
Soccer is a widespread passion in Spain and almost everyone supports one of the two biggest clubs and will proudly tell you whether they are “madridistas” (Madrid fans) or “culés” (Barcelona fans). In 2010, the Spanish National Football team won its first World Soccer Cup, an event that has sealed Spain’s reputation as having some of the best soccer teams and players in the