BEFORE THE NATIONAL TURKISH LEAGUES
The Turks Start Playing Football
The modern football was played in Selanik (now Thessaloníki) in the Ottoman
Empire in 1875 by the English people living there. It is also known that the
game was played at the meadows of Bornova, İzmir in 1877.
The first club was established in İzmir with a name "Football Club Smyrna" - Smyrna was the English
name for İzmir. Some of the English man brought the football with them to İstanbul
when they moved from İzmir, in 1895. They played the game at Kadıköy and Moda.
The first inter-city games were being played by İzmir and İstanbul select teams
in 1897, 1898, 1899, and 1904, İzmir select teams winning them all.
It is believed that the first Turkish man playing football was Selim Sırrı Tarcan who was
in İzmir on an assignment in 1898.
The game was prohibited in the Ottoman Empire at the beginning and it
was played by mostly the English families, Greek, Armenian, and Jewish
The first Turkish team played football in 1901 with an English name
"Black Stockings" (Siyah Çoraplılar). However, the police interrupted
the team's first game when they were losing 5-1 and arrested the players
they could catch.
More clubs got established in İstanbul - Cadi-keu FC (Kadıköy FK) in 1902, later on
Moda FC, Elpis and Imogene FC.
The first league games in Turkey was held in İstanbul in 1904. This
league was called "The Constantinople Football League" originally. The
teams participating were called Kadıköy FC, Moda FC, Elpis, İmojen.
These teams were made up of the English, Greek, and Armenian minorities
living in Turkey.
Later on the teams like Galatasaray SK, Fenerbahçe SK,
Rumblers, Progres(Altınordu), Telefoncular SK with Turkish players
joined the league.
The league games were played on Sundays that’s why
the league was called also as the Sunday league.
The football was a demonstration sport at the 1906 Special Olympic Games
Two teams from the Ottoman Empire participated.
A team from Izmir as "Smyrna" and another from Selanik as "Selanik Music Club".
Izmir team was made up of mostly the English players and Selanik team was
made up of Greek players.
In the four team tournament, Áthina withdrew from the play-off game for the
second place. Denmark won the gold, Smyrna the silver, and Selanik the bronze.
The Smyrna team: Edwin Charnaud, Zarek Kuyumcuyan, Edouard Giraud, Jacques Giraud,
Henri Joly, Percy de la Fontaine, Donald Whittal, Albert Whittal, Godfrey Whittal,
Herbert Whittal, Edward Whittal
The Selanik team: Georgios Vaporis, Nicolaos Pindos, A.Tegon, Nicolaos Pentzikis,
Ioannis Kyrou, Georgis Sotiriadis, V.Zarkadis, Dimitrios Michitsopoulos,
A.Karangonidis, Ioannis - Saridakis, Ioannis Abbot
A second league had started in 1912 in İstanbul. The games for this
league was played on Fridays and the league was called the Friday
The teams playing in this league were Darülfünun SK, İstanbul
Jimnastik K (later on known as (Türk İdman Ocağı), Anadolu SK,
Sanayii FK, Şehremini SK, and Fenerbahçe SK (II).
The Pazar league was
still the main league and they refused the promotion requests of the
Friday league until 1915-1916 season. In 1915-1916 they combined under
the name of the Friday League and played until 1923.
A third league in İstanbul had started in 1919-1920 by Beşiktaş JK,
which were denied the to join the Friday league. This league was called
"İstanbul Türk İdman Birliği".
Turkish Football Association is Established
The Türkiye İdman Cemiyetleri İttifakı (The Turkish Gymnastics Clubs
Union) was established for the Turkey in April 1922 combining the clubs in
other cities as well.
TICI has setup a temporary committee to set up the
Turkish Football Federation under the name of "Futbol Encümeni".
completed its work and the Football Federation was established in the
meeting of 23 April 1923 under the name of "Futbol Hey'et-i Müttehidesi".
The federation combined all regional football leagues under one roof.
More on Regional League
First National League and Cup Competitions and a Super Cup
The football federation started the first national football championship called "Türkiye Birinciliği" in cup format in 1924.
They established the first national league called "Milli Küme" in 1937.
They started a super cup called "Başbakanlık Kupası" as early as in 1944.
National Cup competition started much earlier than the National league - in 1923.
The competition is called as "Türkiye Birinciliği".
This competition was the longest lasting competition. It started when the football was played as an amateur sport and
when the professional leagues started at second half of the 51-52 season, the competition kept its amateur status and the competition was played as "Türkiye Amatör Şampiyonluğu" after that.
The competition eventually became the league in between the lowest professional leagues and the local amateur leagues.
When multiple promotions were decided, the yearly competitions were finalized after the promotions were decided without
having one national champion.
The competition was discontinued with the establishment of BAL - Regional
Türkiye Futbol Birinciliği
The National League - "Milli Küme" was held
1937 to 1950.
The league was played by the top 4 clubs from İstanbul and top 2 clubs from both Ankara and İzmir.
The games were scheduled to play at the end of football season, when the regional leagues in these three cities were completed.
1941 edition was played with 10 clubs adding a thirs club from Ankara and theTürkiye Birincisi from Eskişehir.
1946 edition was played by 6 clubs only, with 2 clubs from Ankara, İsyanbul, and İzmir each.
In 1941, the competition was renamed Maarif Kupası.
In 1943, the competition was renamed Milli Eğitim Mukafatı.
TFF decided to arrange a match between the Milli Küme champion (league) and the Turkish champion at the cup in 1944 (probably one of the earliest in the world).
They named the competition as "Başbakanlık Kupası".
When Milli Küme was cancelled due to the start of professional football after 1950, the Başbakanlık Kupası was also cancelled.
Başbakanlık Kupası was played again later, but with a totally different statuses.
Başbakanlık Kupası (Editions 1 through 5)
After the professionalism was accepted by TFF (Turkish Football Federation), first professional football league started, regionally, at second half of 1951-52 season in İstanbul.
Ankara and İzmir Regional leagues followed at 1955-56 season.
Finally, the professional national league started at second half of the 1958-59 season, under the name of "Milli Lig".
More on Regional League
The sources for the page:
1 - Milliyet Spor Ansiklopedisi
2 - Şener Yelkenci's input.
3 - M.İlter's unfinished work at utfp site.
4 - The Complete Book of Olympics by David Wallechinsky
5 - Internet site of Zaman Gazetesi
6 - Türk Futbol Tarihi - published by TFF
7 - Türk Spor Tarihi Ansiklopedisi by Cem Atabeyoğlu
8 - Futbol Ansiklopedisi by Halûk San, Tevfik Ünsi. and Samim Var
9 - Teknik, Taktik Yönleriyle Futbol ve Tarihi by Vâlâ Somalı
(C) Copyright Erdinç Sivritepe and Turkish Soccer
You are free to copy this document in whole or part provided that proper
acknowledgement is given to the authors. All rights reserved.