🇬🇷 Greece 🇬🇷
The Greek championship was established in 1927 as a play-off of regional champions, while the Greek championship was created in 1959. It has many mythical clubs such as Olympiakos, Panathinaikos, AEK Athens, Aris Thessaloniki and PAOK Thessaloniki.
The sixteen best teams meet twice in the Greek championship. At the end of the 30 matches, the first is crowned champion and qualifies for the Champions League, as well as the second. The 3rd, 4th and winner of the Greek Cup go to the Europa League. At the end, the bottom three in the Greek championship are relegated to the second division. The 13th-placed team is playing a play-off match to try to stay in the 1st division.
The Hellenic Football Federation (FHF) was founded in 1926. Although football has been extremely popular in Greece since the last decade of the 19th century (the Athens club, Panionios NFC, was founded in 1890), the FHF was not established until 40 years later, when the major clubs began to expand and wanted to compete at national level.
The creation of the FHF was the catalyst for the development of football in Greece. It took only one year for the Federation to become a member of FIFA, and at the same time the first division championship became a reality. However, as elsewhere in Europe, national competitions had to be interrupted because of the Second World War, although after the conflict, football was again a priority for all the people. It simply took a short period of rehabilitation before football regained its former importance in Greece.
The FHF was one of the founding members of UEFA. As far as the European governing body and its rules are concerned, the FHF has always tried to contribute to the efforts to develop football, not only in Greece but also on the whole continent. Currently, the FHF comprises more than 4,000 teams and clubs and more than 220,000 players, most of whom are amateurs. In recent years, everything has changed rapidly and most of the country’s stadiums are being renovated to meet UEFA requirements.
The Greek professional league consists of three divisions: A, B and C. The amateur division, D, is also played on a national scale. In this division, clubs are obliged to field at least four players under the age of 20 in order to promote youth development. Teams in Division C must field at least two players under the age of 21. The Greek Cup, which is played between professional clubs only, starts with single matches (first 4 rounds). In the event of a draw, extra time and penalty kicks follow, if necessary. In the round of 16, play-offs are used to decide between the teams if necessary. The quarter-finals and semi-finals are played over two legs.
Greek clubs, led by Olympiacos FC and Panathinaikos FC, have regularly participated in the UEFA Champions League and UEFA Cup/UEFA Europa League in recent years. Panathinaikos participated in the European Champion Clubs’ Cup final in 1971 (losing to AFC Ajax) and in two semi-finals (1984/85 and 1995/96). AEK Athens FC, Olympiacos, Panionios and Larissa FC have also distinguished themselves in UEFA club competitions.
But it was Greece‘s triumph at UEFA EURO 2004 in Portugal that represented the pinnacle of Greek football history and an immense popular pride. Otto Rehhagel‘s men beat Portugal at home thanks to a goal by Angelos Charisteas in the final in Lisbon. Greece qualified for the finals of the 2010 World Cup and the EURO 2008 and 2012.
The official website: superleaguegreece.net