Swiss Super League (Raiffeisen Super League)

Published: 08/10/2013

The Swiss Football League is comprised of seven interlinking leagues of football associations, including the top-tier Raiffeisen Super League and the second-tier Challenge League, both featuring ten teams apiece. Several clubs from neighbouring Liechtenstein and one each from Germany and Italy also participate in the Swiss season that extends from July through May, when a single Super League position is up for relegation/promotion. According to the UEFA, the league ranks 13th in Europe based upon coefficients of past performances in competitions.

A Long Uninterrupted History

Several Swiss clubs began their football history toward the end of the 19th century, leading to the formation of the “Schweizerischer Fussballverband/Association Suisse de Football” (SFV-ASF) or Swiss Football Association in 1895. Two years later, the first nationwide league was organised and named Serie A. When FIFA was established in Paris, France in 1904, Switzerland was a founding member.

Among the major milestones reached by the SFV-ASF in its early years, one of the biggest was the inauguration of the Schweizer Cup (Swiss Cup) in 1926. The first edition was won by Grasshopper Club Zürich (est. 1886), who defeated FC Bern (est. 1894) by a score of 2-1. Grasshopper would go on claim a record 19 cups over the next 87 years, including the most recent one in 2013.

In 1931, Serie A was reformed as the Nationalliga (National League) and the first true league championship was conducted in 1933-34. That season was won by another powerhouse, Servette FC, with Grasshopper as runners-up. Although the number of teams in the league would vary from 12 to 18 in subsequent years, Swiss football fared well through World War Two. The country was a founding member of the UEFA in 1954 and its presence on the international stage was announced in 1959 when BSC Young Boys (est. 1898) from the Swiss federal capital of Berne reached the semi-finals of the European Champion Clubs’ Cup.

From 1944 through 2003, the elite Swiss league was known as Nationalliga A. Then, sponsorships were offered and from 2003 to 2012, and the top teams played in the renamed Axpo Super League. Since 2012, the Swiss cooperative bank called Raiffeisen has been the title sponsor.

Football in the New Millennium

As a financially independent body that does not require public funding, SFV-ASF promotes both grassroots and élite football. It has seen several clubs rise to prominence, such as FC Basel, formed in 1893 but without a trophy until they captured their first Schweizer Cup in 1933. Since then, they have won ten more cups—the most recent one in 2012—along with 16 league championships since 1952-53.

Another top performer in recent years has been FC Zurich. Founded in 1896, they have garnered 10 league titles and seven cups, which include one in 2005. Meanwhile, FC Sion (est. 1909) have piled up a dozen Schweizer Cup wins, three of them coming since 2006. However, the team to beat now is most definitely FC Basel, with six cup triumphs between 2002 and 2012 plus four straight seasons atop the Super League ladder since 2009-10.

The defending title holders going into the 2013-14 season were Basel. Relegated to the Swiss Challenge League were Servette, while that league’s 2012–13 champions, FC Aarau, found themselves promoted. The other eight clubs looking to win the Raiffeisen Super League championship are Grasshopper, Lausanne-Sport, Luzern, Sion, St. Gallen, Thun, Young Boys and Zürich.

Published on: 08/10/2013

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