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How did the Ligue 1 competition come about?

Before professional football was started in 1932, an amateur competition was organized from 1893 with the support of the Union des Sociétés Françaises de Sports Athlétiques (USFSA), which mainly followed the system of prior regional placement. On May 6, 1894, Standard Athletic Club became the first champions by beating The White Rovers in the final.

Between the 1929-1932 period, no national championship was played for three seasons.

The professional era officially began in 1932. It was known as the National for its first year and then for many years as the Division 1. In 2002, the league was renamed the Ligue 1.

The best teams in this league

Record champion since the start of French professional football in 1932 is AS Saint-Étienne with 10 titles.

In recent years, Paris Saint-Germain  (PSG) has become the heavily dominating side of Ligue 1. The club has already collected 9 titles together with Olympique Marseille. Since 2013, only AS Monaco has won the league title once. Olympique Lyonnais also wrote history not so long ago by becoming champion seven times in a row from 2001 to 2008.

If we base ourselves on the five final classifications from 2015-2016 to 2019-2020 and the almost completely contested most recent competition, Paris Saint-Germain is clearly the top team. Olympic Lyonnais follows at a great distance and a little further the trio Olympic Marseille, AS Monaco and Lille OSC.

Ligue 1 - PSG

Paris Saint-Germain (PSG)

Paris Saint-Germain was founded in 1970 with a merger between Paris FC and Stade Saint-Germain, and in that year became Division 2 champions. With the promotion to Division 1, it immediately became a professional club, which would be subsidized by the city of Paris. turn into. As a result of a political game, the club was already split into Paris FC (which continued to play subsidized in Division 1) and Paris Saint-Germain (which was referred to the amateurish Division 3) during the 1971-1972 season. In 1974, PSG re-entered Division 1, have never been relegated from the top tier since and in recent years became the top side of the French football league.

PSG was acquired by Qatar Sports Investments in 2011, giving the club additional funding to attract top players. In 2017, PSG brought in star player Neymar from FC Barcelona for a period of five years for an amount of 222 million euros: the highest transfer fee ever. The second most expensive transfer ever was also realized with the purchase of Mbappé from AS Monaco by PSG. Also Messi came to PSG.

  • 10x National Champion in Division 1/Ligue 1
  • 14x Coupe de France
  • 9x Coupe de la Ligue (national record holder)
  • 10x Trophee des Champions


Ligue 1 - Olympique Lyonnais

Olympique Lyonnais

The club only started to deliver very remarkable performances from the 2000-2001 season. These coincided with the million-dollar sponsorship by Pathé, which allowed, among other things, star player Sonny Anderson to be purchased from FC Barcelona. Between 2001 and 2011, the club was champion seven times, twice 2nd and twice 3rd. It was also one of the top European clubs in those years.

  • 7x National Champion in Division 1/Ligue 1
  • 5x Coupe de France
  • 1x Coupe de la Ligue
  • 8x Trophee des Champions

Ligue 1 - Olympique (de) Marseille

Olympique (de) Marseille

No other club has played in the highest division for longer than Olympique Marseille.

European success came in 1993, when the French club won the very first edition of the Champions League (formerly called the European Cup I) by beating AC Milan.

Olympique Marseille immediately became the only French club to ever win a European title.

In 1992-1993, however, the club was involved in a bribery scandal in the national league. After this leaked, she was stripped of the 1993 league title and relegated to the second division for two years.

  • 10x National Champion in Division 1/Ligue 1
  • 10x Coupe de France
  • 3x Coupe de la Ligue
  • 3x Trophee des Champions
  • 1x European Cup I/Champions League

Ligue 1 - AS Monaco FC 

AS Monaco FC

Even though the principality of Monaco does not belong to France, its strongest football team has always played in the French professional league. In 2011, the Russian billionaire Ryboloblev pumped a lot of money into the club. Since 2013-2014, the matches between AS Monaco and the also heavily funded Paris Saint-Germain have been called “Le Cashico”.

  • 8x National Champion in Division 1/Ligue 1
  • 5x Coupe de France
  • 1x Coupe de la Ligue
  • 4x Trophee des Champions

Ligue 1 - Lille OSC

Lille OSC

Lille OSC was created in 1944 from a merger of Olympique Lillois and SC Fives, first under the name Stade Lillois and later changed to Lille Olympique Sporting Club (Lille OSC) within a year. Olympique Lillois was the first champion of the French professional league, founded in 1932.

  • 3x National Champion in Division 1/Ligue 1
  • 6x Coupe de France

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What is the competition like?

In Ligue 1, 20 clubs play a total of 38 back and forth matches. The first and second of the Ligue 1 final standings qualify directly for the group stage of the Champions League. The third may contest the third qualifying round of the Champions League, but must also play a play-off round in the event of a win to be qualified. The fourth in the final ranking goes directly to the group stage of the Europa League.

The last two are relegated directly to Ligue 2 and the third last must contest play-off matches with the number three in Ligue 2. The winning team of these play-off matches may (continue to) play in Ligue 1 in the next season .

On the Ligue website we see in the final standings behind the name of the club the total number of game points, the number of games already played, the number of won, undecided and lost games, the number of goals and goals against and the goal difference.

Cup Tournaments

Until the 2019-2020 season, France also had two national cup tournaments: the Coupe de France (the actual cup competition) since 1917-1918 and the Coupe de la Ligue, contested since 1981-1982. Until recently, both winners received a ticket for the Europa League. If a cup winner had already qualified for the Europa League via the regular competition, a place became available for the highest-placed team in the competition that had not yet acquired a European ticket. Now that the French Football Association has decided to no longer organize the Coupe de la Ligue after 2019-2020, an extra European ticket will go to the national championship.

The Coupe de France is open to any club affiliated to the FFF, including clubs from the French overseas departments.

The French Supercup, which has been contested between the national champion and the cup winner (Coupe de France) since 1949, was initially called the Challenge des Champions and was renamed Trophée des Champions in 1995.

There is also a Championnat de France de Football Féminin (also called Division 1 Féminine).

Extra information

– All-time top scorer in French professional football since 1932 is Josip Skoblar (Olympic Marseille) with 44 goals in 1970-1971. He is immediately followed by Zlotan Ibrahimovic with 38 goals in 2015-2016.

– The fastest ever goal in the French professional league was scored in 1992 by Michel Rio after 8 seconds.

– In 1992-1993, Olympic Marseille lost its title because the club was involved in a bribery scandal. PSG was then second in the standings but refused the title as the first holder, after which there was no national champion at all in that season. In fact, PSG was not allowed to claim the title from its main sponsor Canal +, who feared that it would lose a mass of viewers from Provence, the region in which Marseille is located.

– There was no final in 1992. Just before the semifinal between SEC Bastia and Olympique Marseille , a grandstand collapsed: 19 people died and 2,200 were injured. The match was not played again, and no cup winner was declared. The winner of the other semi-final (AS Monaco) was immediately allowed to contest European Cup II.


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