Latvian Higher League

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Latvian Higher League
Logo virsliga.svg
Confederation UEFA (Europe)
Number of teams10
Level on pyramid1
Relegation to Latvijas 1. līga
Domestic cup(s) Latvian Cup
Latvian Supercup
International cup(s) UEFA Champions League
UEFA Europa Conference League
Current champions Riga FC
Most championships Skonto (15)
Current: 2021 Latvian Higher League

Latvian Higher League or Virslīga is a professional football league and the top tier of association football in Latvia. Organised by the Latvian Football Federation, the Higher League is contested by 10 clubs. The full name of the league is Optibet Virslīga for sponsorship reasons since 2019.


History and league format


The first all-national Latvian championship, which succeeded the Riga Football League and other regional leagues, was organized in 1927, which lasted until the Soviet occupation of Latvia in 1940. After World War II, between 1945 and 1991 the championship of Soviet Latvia was the main footballing competition in the Latvian SSR.

With Latvia regaining full independence in August 1991, the newly established Latvian Football Federation (LFF) decided to reorganise its competitions within the Virslīga from 1992. [1] The same year Latvia returned to FIFA and became a member of UEFA.


After the 2007 season the league increased from eight to ten sides. [2] In 2008 each side played the others four times. From 2015 till 2018 there were eight participating clubs. This was increased to nine for the 2019 season and ten for the 2020 season. [3]

At the end of the season, the lowest placed team are automatically relegated into 1. līga, and the winner of the 1. līga automatically takes their place. The second lowest placed team in Virslīga and the second team of 1. līga play two matches for a place in the Virslīga the following season. The winner of Virslīga, the champion of Latvia, plays in the UEFA Champions League qualifying round. The second and third placed clubs play in the UEFA Europa League qualifying games. [4]

A winter off-season league cup, the Virslīga Winter Cup, was played in January of each year from 2013 to 2017, which was replaced in 2018 by the Virslīga Cup (Latvian : Virslīgas kausa izcīņa). [5]

Sponsorships and name changes

LMT Virsliga logo (2005-2010) LMT Virsliga.png
LMT Virslīga logo (2005–2010)

The League has changed sponsors for several times. From 2005 until 2010 it was known as the LMT Virslīga. No sponsorships were established for the 2011 season. Starting from the 2012 season, the league was reorganised in partnership with an NGO as "Latvijas Futbola virslīga", [6] adopting the NGO's name in the 2012 season. From 2013 to 2015, the league was known as the Virslīga due to a contract with the online microfinance company SMScredit. [7] In March 2016, it was announced that the Virslīga would be sponsored by SynotTip Sports Bar on a three-year contract. [8] They were succeeded by betting firm Optibet on a two-year contract, beginning with the 2019 season. [9]

Clubs (2020)

Latvia adm location map.svg
Locations of the 2021 Latvian Higher League teams
in 2020
Liepāja 5th
Metta / LU 9th
Riga FC 1st
Rīgas FS 2nd
Spartaks Jūrmala 6th
Valmiera 3th
Ventspils 4rd
BFC Daugavpils 8th
Noah Jurmala 1st in First League

Titles by year

Source: [10]

Riga Football League

Latvian Championship 1922–1940 (independent)

Football Championship of Latvian SSR 1942–1990

Since independence in 1991

Notable managers and players

Most titles

This is a list of clubs, in order of most titles won in championships in independent Latvia (1922–1940 and 1991 to date). [10] Teams in bold are part of 2020 Virslīga.

Players of FK Ventspils celebrate after becoming champions in 2010 Virsliga 2008 Ventspils.jpg
Players of FK Ventspils celebrate after becoming champions in 2010

By club

ClubNo. of TitlesYears won
Skonto Riga 151991, 1992, 1993, 1994, 1995, 1996, 1997, 1998, 1999, 2000, 2001, 2002, 2003, 2004, 2010
RFK Riga 81924, 1925, 1926, 1930, 1931, 1934, 1935, 1940
Olimpija Liepāja 71927, 1928, 1929, 1933, 1936, 1938, 1939
Ventspils 62006, 2007, 2008, 2011, 2013, 2014
Riga FC 32018, 2019, 2020
Liepājas Metalurgs 22005, 2009
Kaiserwald Riga 21922, 1923
JPFS/Spartaks Jūrmala 22016, 2017
FK Liepāja 12015
Daugava Daugavpils 12012
ASK Riga 11932


The most well-known rivalry is the Kurzeme Derby (Kurzemes derbijs) between Ventspils and Liepāja. [11] [ circular reference ] The two biggest clubs in Kurzeme have played 86 matches between themselves with a record of 31–28–27 (including Metalurgs) in favor of Liepāja prior to the 2019 Virslīga. [12]

Since 2016, the Riga Derby (Rīgas derbijs) was started between Riga FC and Rīgas FS as two clubs were promoted at the same time. A 2019 match in Skonto Stadium between the two sides broke a ten-year attendance record. [13]

Virslīga clubs in international competitions

UEFA competitions

Ventspils was the Latvian first club who qualified for the group stage of a UEFA club competition, reaching the 2009–10 UEFA Europa League group stage. [14] [ circular reference ]

Skonto reached the UEFA Champions League last qualifying stage for a number of times in the late 1990s and early 2000s, but lost to such teams like FC Barcelona in 1997, Internazionale FC in 1998 and Chelsea FC in 1999.

Commonwealth of Independent States Cup

Runners-up (3): 2001, 2003, 2004.

Runners-up (1): 2007.

Baltic League

Champions (1): 2007.

Champions (1): 2010.

Runners-up (2): 2007, 2011.

Champions (1): 2011.

Runners-up (1): 2008.

Related Research Articles

Skonto FC Football club

Skonto FC was a Latvian football club, founded in 1991. The club played at the Skonto Stadium in Riga. Skonto won the Virsliga in the first 14 seasons of the league's resumption, and often provided the core of the Latvia national football team. With those 14 national championships in a row, they set a European record, men and women's football combined, until the women of Faroese club KÍ Klaksvík won their 14th championship in a row in 2013.

Latvian Higher League 2009 was the 18th season of top-tier football in Latvia. It began on 14 March 2009 with the first round of games and ended on 8 November 2009 with the 36th round of matches. Ventspils were the defending champions.

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The 2011 Latvian Higher League was the 20th season of top-tier football in Latvia. It began on 15 April 2011 and ended on 5 November 2011.

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2014 Virsligas Winter Cup is second the edition of Virsligas Winter Cup. FC Daugava is the defending champion.

The 2014 Latvian Higher League was the 23rd season of top-tier football in Latvia. FK Ventspils are the defending champions. The season started on 21 March 2014. Initially, Skonto Riga and Daugava Daugavpils, the second and third teams from the previous season, were denied a license to participate and the league began with eight clubs. However, their appeals against this were successful and the league was restored to ten clubs.

The 2015 Latvian Higher League is the 24th season of top-tier football in Latvia. FK Ventspils are the defending champions. The season started on 13 March 2015.

The 2016 Latvian Higher League was the 25th season of top-tier football in Latvia. FK Liepāja were the defending champions. The season began on 11 March 2016 and ended on 5 November 2016; the relegation play-offs took place on 9 and 13 November 2016.

The 2018 Latvian Football Cup was the 24th edition of the football tournament. This edition of the competition began on 26 May 2018 and ended on 24 October 2018. Liepāja were the defending champions, having won the final 2–0 over Riga FC.


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  2. Mike Dryomin (14 March 2008). "Latvia 2007". RSSSF. Retrieved 23 July 2012.
  3. "Sacensību sistēmas modeļa apstiprināšana". (in Latvian).
  4. Hartmanis, Martins (1 December 2007). "LMT Virslīga new season calendar published". Latvian Football Federation . Retrieved 20 February 2008.
  5. "Ziemas kauss futbolā vairs nenotiks, to aizstās Virslīgas kausa izcīņa". (in Latvian). 22 December 2017. Retrieved 7 August 2019.
  6. "About Virslīga". Biedrība Latvijas Futbola Virslīga. Archived from the original on 3 June 2013. Retrieved 16 June 2013.(in Latvian)
  7. "Latvijas futbola virslīgai nākamajā sezonā būs jauns ģenerālsponsors". Public Broadcasting of Latvia (in Latvian). 17 October 2018. Retrieved 7 August 2019.
  8. "Virslīga ar "SynotTip" noslēdz vērienīgāko līgumu līgas vēsturē" (in Latvian). 10 March 2016. Retrieved 13 March 2016.
  9. "Becomes main sponsor of Latvian football league". Enlabs AB. Retrieved 18 March 2019.
  10. 1 2 Almantas Lauzadis and Hans Schöggl (23 March 2017). "Latvia – List of Champions". RSSSF. Retrieved 9 June 2017.
  11. "Kurzeme derby".
  12. "Futbola virslīgā tiks aizvadīts Kurzemes derbijs". TVNET (in Latvian). 20 June 2019.
  13. Suveizda, Agris (2 June 2019). "Rīgas derbijs labo Virslīgas desmitgades apmeklētības rekordu". (in Latvian).
  14. "Europa League group stage".