French Ligue 1
Ligue 1 has been the name of the top division in French football league since 2002, before that it was called Division 1. The league in its original form was first inaugurated in 1932, two years after professionalism in French football became legal.
Founded: 2002 (1932)
Organizer: French Football Federation (Fédération Française de Football; FFF)
National / Division 1 (1932-2002)
Ligue 1 (2002-)
Most championships: PSG (11)
Most played seasons: Marseille (70)
Football became popular relatively late on the other side of the English Channel; for the French cycling was the prime sport. Nevertheless, in the 1890s football started to flourish in Paris and soon spread to other regions. The first national (although only Parisian team participated) competition was arranged in 1894. This was several decades before the introduction of professional football in the country though.
The first season of the professional league was played in 1932 and included 20 teams (at this certain season the league was called National), the same number of teams that are included in Ligue 1 today.
The winner has since 2007 received the “Hexagoal” trophy designed by Pablo Reinoso. It has replaced the old trophy, called “le Trophée de Ligue 1”, designed by d'Andrée Putman.
The 20 particpating clubs play against each other in home and away games, resulting in 38 for each team during a season. Since the 1994-95 season, three points are received for a win; for a draw, one point is received. Most points during a season was collected by Paris Saint-Germain in the 2015-2016 season (96).
Ligue 1 is the top tier of the French football league system, one level above the current Ligue 2. The third to fifth level are called Championnat National (in English: French National Championship). An overview of the current league system in France is presented in table 1.
|Championnat National 2||4|
|Championnat National 3||5|
Below the fifth level follows a structure of several local regional leagues.
Teams with most titles
Statistics of all French clubs that have won the Ligue 1 more than once, concerning the period 1932-2023 (the league was not active 1939-1945 due to the WWII), excluding the amateur era.
|Olympique de Marseille||9|
The remaining France champions during the professional era are Lens, FC Rouen, RC Strasbourg, AJ Auxerre and Montpellier HSC with one title each.
In the 1992-1993 season no title was awarded. Marseilles got their title revoked due to a bribery scandal. If the amateur era (1893-1929) is included, Marseille would still have one extra title.
In the 2019-2020 the season was abrupted due to the Covid-19 virus pandemic. PSG was awarded the title with 12 points (68 points in 27 matches) ahead of the runners-up Olympique de Marseille (56 points in 28 matches).
The last time AS Saint-Étienne won was in 1981. Since the French first division changed name to Ligue 1, Olympique Lyonnais, has collected the most titles.
During the amateur era Standard Athletic Club (dissolved in 1937) and Racing Club de Roubaix (dissolved in 1964) were the most successful clubs. Standard Athletic Club won the first two championships and when another three in the following six seasons. Racing Club de Roubaix won also five trophies during the amateur era plus one in the beginning of the professional era as Club Olympique de Roubaix-Tourcoing.
The rest of France champions during the amateur era are Stade Helvétique de Marseille (dissolved in 1932), Le Havre, Racing Club de France Football, Club Français (dissolved in 1935), CA Paris-Charenton, US Tourcoing FC, Gallia Club Paris (dissolved in 1940), Saint-Raphaël (since 2009 Fréjus Saint-Raphaël) and Stade Français.
Teams with most league participation
Statistics of the French clubs that have participated more than 50 times in the top national division during the period 1932-2019.
Between the first season and season 2019-2020, in total 73 clubs has participating in top division of the French league.
Capacity of Ligue 1 stadiums
Table 4 shows the capacity of the clubs participating in Ligue 1. Orange Vélodrome, where Marseille has played since 1937, has the highest capacity with over 67,000 seats.
|Amiens||Stade de la Licorne||12,097|
|Angers||Stade Raymond Kopa||17,835|
|Caen||Stade Michel d'Ornano||20,453|
|Dijon||Stade Gaston Gérard||18,376|
|Guingamp||Stade du Roudourou||18,378|
|Monaco||Stade Louis II||18,523|
|Montpellier||Stade de la Mosson||32,939|
|Nantes||Stade de la Beaujoire||37,473|
|Nîmes||Stade des Costières||18,482|
|PSG||Parc des Princes||48,583|
|Reims||Stade Auguste Delaune||21,684|
|Strasbourg||Stade de la Meinau||29,230|
The league's all-time leading goalscorer is the Argentinian Delio Onnis that played in Monaco, Reims, Tours, Toulon between 1971 ands 1986. He did 299 goals in 449 appearances.
Other notabale goalscorers in the league's history are Bernard Lacombe, France Hervé Revelli, France Roger Courtois, France Thadée Cisowski and France Roger Piantoni. They all did over 200 goals each.
Players with most appearances
The player with most appearances is the goalkeeper Mickaël Landreau who played in four French clubs (Nantes, PSG, Lille and Bastia) between 1996 and 2014. In total, he made 618 appearances. One other player, the goalkeeper Jean-Luc Ettori, has done over 600 matches in Ligue 1.
Some of the most famous players that have participated in the Ligue 1 are:
- Joel Bats
- Alin Giresse
- Jean Tigana
- Enzo Scifo
- Michel Platini
- Jorge Burruchaga
- Dragan Stojković
- Eric Cantona
- Jürgen Klinsmann
- Zinedine Zidane
- Marcel Desailly
- Thierry Henry
- David Trezeguet
- Youri Djorkaeff
- Luis Fernandez
- David Ginola
- George Weah
- Didier Drogba
- Zlatan Ibrahimovic
- Thiago Silva
- Edinson Cavani
- Neymar Jr
- Kylian Mbappé
By Oscar Anderson
Ligue 1 timeline
1919 The French Football Federation (Fédération Française de Football; FFF) is founded.
1932 National (predecessor to Ligue 1) is established.
1933 The league is renamed as Division 1.
1939 The 1939-40 season is cancelled due to the WWII.
1945 The league is restored after the war.
1995 From the 1995-96 season, wins are awarded three points instead of two.
2002 The league is renamed as Ligue 1.
2017 The league is named Ligue 1 Conforama due to sponsorship reasons.
2020 The season is suspended after 279 games due to coronavirus outbreak; PSG is later awarded the league title.