Portugal is a country located in South-western Europe, on the Iberian Peninsula. It is the westernmost country of mainland Europe, and is bordered by the Atlantic Ocean to the west and south and by Spain to the north and east. Portugal holds sovereignty over the Atlantic archipelagos of Azores and Madeira, which are autonomous regions of the nation. Portugal has a population of 10.58 million people and the capital is Lisbon.
Football started to gain popularity in Portugal in the late 19th century, having been introduced by Portuguese students who returned from England. The first organised game in the country took place in 1875 in Camacha, Madeira. The game quickly spread and in March 1914, the 3 regional associations (Lisbon, Portalegre and Porto) that existed at that time merged to create the União Portuguesa de Futebol, the predecessor of the current national association.
The Portuguese Football Federation (Federação Portuguesa de Futebol) is the governing body of football in Portugal and is based in Lisbon. The FPF oversees most aspects of football in the country including the II Divisão and III Divisão, Taça de Portugal and the national football teams. The organisation was founded in 1916 and became affiliated FIFA in 1923 and to UEFA in 1954.
The Primeira Liga (commonly known as Liga ZON Sagres after the league's sponsor) is the highest football league in Portugal. The competition was established in 1934 as an experimental competition on a round-basis with the winners being named the "League champions". From 1938–2000, the name Campeonato Nacional da Primeira Divisão (National Championship of the First Division), or just Primeira Divisão (First Division), was used.
In 1999 the Liga Portuguesa de Futebol Profissional (Portuguese League for Professional Football) took control of the two nationwide leagues and the top tier became known as the Primeira Liga (Premier League). It currently operates with 16 clubs.
The most successful club in Portuguese football in terms of league championship wins is held by Benfica, followed by Porto and Sporting CP. Only two other clubs have won the championship, namely Belenenses and Boavista.
Below the top tier, the national league structure comprises the Segunda Liga (1 section of 22 clubs), Segunda Divisão (3 sections serving 48 clubs) and Terceira Divisão (7 sections serving 82 clubs). Below this level, covering tiers 5 to 7, there are Regional Leagues which are administered by the 22 regional football associations. There is a system of promotion and relegation between all the tiers.
The Portuguese Cup (Taça de Portugal) is the national knockout cup competition in Portuguese football. The recognised competition was first held in 1938 but the first incarnation of the Taça was held as early as 1912. In 1922 the Championship of Portugal (Campeonato de Portugal) was created with the clubs participating in elimination rounds. The winners were named Champions of Portugal and it was the primary tournament in Portugal until the mid-1930s.
The most successful club in the Taça de Portugal since 1938 has been Benfica, followed by Porto and Sporting CP.
Currently 162 clubs compete in competition from the top 4 tiers of the national league structure.
Main league tables & results
See Current League Tables - for more coverage
Season by season matrix
Appreciation: Full recognition and acknowledgement is made to the work of Jorge Miguel Teixeira and the many contributors to the Rec.Sport.Soccer Statistics Foundation and ForaDeJogo who have catalogued the above tables.
See Historic League Tables - for more coverage