Football in Lithuania

Last updated
Football in Lithuania
CountryLithuania
Governing body Lithuanian Football Federation
National team(s) men's national team
First played1892
Registered players25,287 (2018)
~30,000 (2021)
Club competitions
International competitions

Football is one of the top two most popular sports in Lithuania by the quantity of active sportsmen. [1] However, with only 52,000 match spectators a year (2019) in all top league matches, it falls far behind country's most popular sport, basketball. Other variations of football like futsal, 5-a-side to 8-a-side football, beach soccer have become fairly popular as well.

Contents

The former Soviet republic made their return as an independent football nation in 1992. [2] [3] In the qualification for the Euro 2004, Lithuania held Germany to a 1–1 draw in Germany and won against Scotland. In the qualification for Euro 2008 they played away to the 2006 World Cup winners Italy and drew 1–1. They also defeated Romania 3–0 in Lithuania, in another shock performance. [4]

History

In 1922 in Lithuania first local soccer championships began, largest ones being in Kaunas, Klaipėda and Šiauliai counties. Since 1931 a country-wide soccer championships were held regularly each year. [5]

During soviet occupation, some Lithuanian soccer clubs participated in USSR football championship, whereas others chose to play in Lithuanian SSR league. After regaining the independence in 1991, the Lithuanian football league system was restored.

Domestic football

The highest current men's football league – A Lyga, the second tier I Lyga, and the third tier is II Lyga were founded in 1991 by the Lithuanian Football Federation. The fourth tier III Lyga championships are organized by 10 county football federations. The fifth tier competitions are organized by Vilnius Region Football Federation, and called the Sunday Football League. At one stage the SFL expanded country-wide, but then contracted back to Vilnius Region only. At the moment, lower than fourth tier competitions are organized at county, region, or city level, and often at 8 or even fewer a side.

At the end of the season, the A Lyga winners will be awarded the LFF Championship Cup and the transitional LFF Champions Cup, which will acquire the right to represent Lithuania in the UEFA Champions League and the UEFA Europa League. The last placed team in the A league is relegated to I Lyga, and the winner of I Lyga is promoted to A Lyga. The team placed one before last plays a playoff game with second placed team in the I Lyga. The number of teams in I Lyga is maximum 16, however it fluctuates each year. Bottom 2-4 teams are relegated to II Lyga, and the winners of each II Lyga groups gain promotion to I Lyga. However, in recent years due to the lack of participating clubs, frequent club collapses, and changing financial fortunes, the promotion and relegation rules are not frequently followed. It is rather the licensing process that determines which league clubs are able to play each year.

League system

Men

Tier

Leagues and Divisions

1

A Lyga
10 clubs from 2021 onwards.
8 clubs between 2016-2019, and approximately 10 between 2012-2015

↓↑ 1–2 clubs

2

I Lyga
14 teams in 2021. Number of teams is fluctuating between 12 - 16

↓↑ 2 - 4 clubs

3

II Lyga
20 teams in a single 2021 league. For the last decade the league mostly consisted of two zones - the South and the West Zone, consisting of 8 - 16 teams. Before that North and East Zones also existed, with 5 - 12 teams in each.

↓↑ 2 - 4 clubs

4

III Lyga
32 teams in 4 zones in 2020. Four counties organized championships at this level: Vilnius, Klaipėda, Šiauliai and Alytus.

↓↑ 0 clubs. Separate licensing processes.

5

SFL
44 teams in 4 vertical divisions in 2021. In recent years the competition only takes place in Vilnius Region.

Women

LevelLeague
1 A Lyga
2LMFA I lyga

Related Research Articles

Lithuanian Football Federation

The Lithuanian Football Federation (LFF) is the governing body of football in Lithuania. The Federation is responsible for football development in the country and for the national teams, including the Lithuania national football team. It is based in Vilnius. LFF became a member of FIFA in 1923, but following Lithuania's annexation by the Soviet Union it was disbanded. It became a member again in 1992 after Lithuania regained its independence. The top division is A Lyga.

FK Žalgiris Lithuanian football club

Futbolo klubas Žalgiris, commonly known as FK Žalgiris, Žalgiris Vilnius or simply Žalgiris is a Lithuanian professional football club based in Vilnius. The club competes in the A Lyga, the top flight of Lithuanian football. The club was founded as Dinamo in 1947. The club's name commemorates the victorious Battle of Žalgiris. Žalgiris has featured many Lithuanian football legends during their history, including Arminas Narbekovas, Valdas Ivanauskas, Edgaras Jankauskas and Deividas Šemberas. They have won the Lithuanian Championship 8 times, the Lithuanian Football Cup 12 times and the Lithuanian Supercup 7 times.

Kauno futbolo ir beisbolo klubas, commonly known as FBK Kaunas, was a Lithuanian football club from the city of Kaunas.

A Lyga

The A Lyga is the top division of professional football in Lithuania. The A Lyga is an abbreviation of Aukščiausia lyga meaning Highest League. It is organized by Lithuanian Football Federation LFF. The Aukščiausia lyga also existed during the Soviet period of Lithuania, but was not considered to be a professional league until dissolution of the Soviet Union.

I Lyga

The I Lyga, LFF I Lyga, Pirma Lyga, is the second tier of professional Lithuanian football championship.

The Lithuanian A Lyga 2009 was the 20th season of top-tier football in Lithuania. The season started on 4 April 2009 and ended on 31 October 2009. Ekranas successfully defended their title.


Lithuanian Football Federation's III league, LFF II lyga is the fourth tier Lithuanian football championship.

Lithuanian Football Federation's II lyga, LFF II lyga – the third tier Lithuanian football championship. The league consists of the Southern Zone and the Western Zone. The two winners gain promotion to the I Lyga.

The 2011 A Lyga was the 22nd season of the A Lyga, the top-tier football league of Lithuania. The season began on 12 March 2011 and ended on 6 November 2011. Ekranas were the defending champions, having won their third consecutive title at the end of the 2010 season.

The 2012 A Lyga, also known as General Financing A Lyga for sponsoring purposes, was the 23rd season of the A Lyga, the top-tier football league of Lithuania. The season started on 10 March 2012 and ended on 11 November 2012. Ekranas were the defending champions.

FK Riteriai Lithuanian football club

Futbolo Klubas Riteriai, also known as FK Riteriai or as Riteriai, is a Lithuanian professional football club based in Vilnius. The team has been playing in the top level of Lithuanian football, the A Lyga, since 2014. Until 21 February 2019, the club was based in Trakai and was known as FK Trakai.

The 2015 A Lyga, also known as SMSCredit.lt A Lyga for sponsoring purposes was the 26th season of the A Lyga, the top-tier association football league of Lithuania. The season started in February 2015 and ended in November 2015. Žalgiris Vilnius are the defending champions.

The 2017 A Lyga was the 28th season of the A Lyga, the top-tier association football league of Lithuania. The season began on 3 March 2017 and ended on 19 November 2017.

The 2017 LFF I Lyga is the 28th season of the I Lyga, the second tier association football league of Lithuania. The season began on 24 March 2017 and is scheduled to end on 5 November 2017.

The 2018 Lithuanian Football Cup, also known as LFF Cup, was the seventy-third season of the Lithuanian annual football knock-out tournament. Forty-eight teams entered the competitions, which started on 27 April and ended on 30 September.

Baltijos Futbolo Akademija Lithuanian association football club

Baltijos Futbolo Akademija, BFA is a Lithuanian football club based in Vilnius, established as an extension of the youth football academy.

The 2019 LFF I Lyga was the 30th season of the I Lyga, the second tier association football league of Lithuania. The season began on 22 March 2019 and finished in 27 October 2019.

The 2020 A Lyga was the 31st season of the A Lyga, the top-tier football league of Lithuania. The season began on 6 March and was planned to end on 7 November 2020. On 12 March all sports events were postponed for two weeks in the light of the COVID-19 pandemic.

The 2020 LFF I Lyga is the 31st season of the I Lyga, the second tier football league of Lithuania. The season was planned to begin in March, but was delayed to June because of COVID-19 pandemic. The season finished on time on 31 October.

2021 A Lyga

The 2021 A Lyga, for sponsorship reasons also called Optibet A lyga is the 32nd season of the A Lyga, the top-tier football league of Lithuania. The season began on 5 March and is planned to end at the beginning of November 2021.

References

  1. "Lietuvos sporto rinkos pokyčiai: tendencijos, kurios palies ir prekės ženklus". delfi.lt. 2018-10-22. Retrieved 2020-02-20.
  2. "Football developing in Latvia, Lithuania". YouTube. 2013-08-11. Retrieved 2013-11-15.
  3. "Boost for Lithuanian football development". FIFA.com. 2007-07-20. Retrieved 2013-11-15.
  4. Wilson, Jonathan (2008-09-09). "Football: Jonathan Wilson – Lithuania drubbing exposes Romanian discord | Sport". theguardian.com. Retrieved 2013-11-15.
  5. "Lithuania go it alone | Inside UEFA". UEFA.com. July 9, 2018.