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Serie A, currently called Serie A TIM due to sponsorship Telecom Italia Mobile, is a professional league competition for football clubs located at the top echelon of the Italian football league system and has been operating for over eighty years since 1929. It had been organized by Lega Calcio until 2010, but a new league like the English Premier League is scheduled to be created for the 2010-11 season. It is regarded as one of the most elite leagues of the footballing world. Historically, Serie A has produced the highest number of European Cup finalists. In total Italian clubs have reached the final of the competition on a record twenty-five different occasions, winning the title eleven times. As of 2008, Serie A is ranked third among European leagues by UEFA, based on the performance of Italian clubs in the Champions League and the UEFA Cup, and second in the IFFHS rating.
In its current format, the Italian Football Championship was revised from having regional and interregional rounds, to just one solid league from the 1929–30 season onwards; the Serie A system carries on today. The championship titles won before 1929 are officially recognised by FIGC as a championship in the same way the ones since then are. The 1945–46 season, when the league was played over two geographical groups due to WWII destructions, is not statistically considered, even if its title is fully official.
The league hosts three of the world's most famous clubs as Juventus, Milan and Internazionale, all founding members of the G-14 a group representing the largest and most prestigious European football clubs; Serie A was the only league to produce three founding members. More players have won the coveted ''Ballon d'Or'' award while playing at a Serie A club than any other league in the world. Milan is one of two clubs with the most official international titles in the world. Juventus, the most successful Italian team,
[.] is tied for third in Europe and sixth in the world in the same ranking. They are also the only club in the world to have won all official club competitions.
For most of Serie A's history there were 16 or 18 clubs competing at the top level; however, since 2004–05 there have been 20 clubs altogether. Below is a complete record of how many teams played in each season throughout the league's history;
During the course of a season, from August to May, each club played each of the other teams twice; once at home and once away, totaling 38 games for each team by the end of the season. Therefore, in Italian football a true round-robin format is used. In the first half of the season, called the ''andata'', each team played exactly one time against each league opponent, for a total of 19 games. In the second half of the season, called the ''ritorno'', the teams played in exactly the same order that they did in the first half of the season, the only difference being that home and away situations are switched. Since the 1994-1995 season, teams were awarded three points for a win, one point for a draw, and no points for a loss.
Since Italy is currently rated as one of the top three European countries in terms of club football ratings, the top four teams in the Serie A qualified for the UEFA Champions League. The top three teams qualify directly to the group phase, while the fourth-placed team enters the competition at the third qualifying round and must win a two-legged knockout tie in order to enter the group phase. Teams finishing 5th and 6th qualify for the UEFA Europa League Tournament. A third UEFA Europa League spot is reserved for the winner of the Coppa Italia. If the Coppa Italia champion has already qualified for the major European tournament by placing in the top four of Serie A, the third UEFA Europa League spot goes to the losing finalist. If both Coppa Italia finalists finish among the top six teams in Serie A, the 7th classified team in Serie A is awarded the UEFA Europa League spot. The three lowest placed teams are relegated to Serie B.
Before the 2005–06 season if two or more teams were tied in points for first place, for only one spot in a European tournament, or in the relegation zone, teams would play tie-breaking games after the season was over to determine which team would be champion, or be awarded a European tournament spot, or be saved or relegated. Since 2005–06, if two or more teams end the season with the same number of points, the ordering is determined by their head-to-head records. In case two or more teams have same total points and same head-to-head records, goal difference becomes the secondary deciding factor.
The Golden Star
In 1958, based on an idea of Umberto Agnelli, the honor of ''Golden Star for Sports Excellence'' ("Stella d’Oro al Merito Sportivo" in Italian) was introduced to recognize sides that have won multiple championships or other honours by the display of gold stars on their team crests and jerseys. In Italy, the practice is to award one star for ten titles. The first team to adopt a star was Juventus in Italy and Europe, who added a star above their crest in 1958 to represent their tenth Serie A title. In 1982, they received their second golden star for having won their 20th league title.
The current officially-sanctioned Serie A stars are:
* Juventus, received in 1958 and 1982.
* Internazionale, received in 1966.
* Milan, received in 1979.
Serie A, as it is structured today, began in 1929. From 1898 to 1922 the competition was organised into regional groups. Because of ever growing teams attending regional championships, FIGC split the CCI (Italian Football Confederation) in 1921. When CCI teams rejoined the FIGC created two interregional divisions renaming Categories into Divisions and splitting FIGC sections into two North-South leagues. In 1926 due to internal crises FIGC changed internal settings adding southern teams to the national divisions which lead to 1929-30 final settlement. No title was awarded in 1927 after Torino were stripped of the championship by the Italian Football Federation (FIGC). Torino were declared champions in the 1948-49 season following a plane crash near the end of the season in which the entire team was killed.
The Serie A Championship title is often referred to as the ''scudetto'' (small shield) because since the 1924-25 season the winning team will bear a small coat of arms with the Italian tricolour on their strip in the following season. The most successful club is Juventus with 27 championships, followed by Internazionale and Milan with (17), and Genoa (9). From 2004-05 onwards an actual trophy was awarded to club on the field after the last turn of the championship. The trophy, called ''Coppa Campioni d'Italia'', is official since the 1960–61 season, but between 1961 and 2004 it was consigned to the winning clubs at the head office of the ''Lega Nazionale Professionisti''.
On 30 April 2009, Serie A announced a split from Serie B to form Lega Calcio Serie A. Nineteen of the twenty clubs voted in favour of the move in an argument over television rights. Relegation-threatened Lecce voted against. Maurizio Beretta, the former head of Italy's employers' association, will be the president of the new league.
[[http://news.bbc.co.uk/sport2/hi/football/europe/8027857.stm Serie A to form breakaway league - BBC Sport]] [[http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2009/04/30/AR2009043002764.html Serie A clubs to set up their own league - Washington Post]] [[http://www.skysports.com/story/0,19528,11854_5260115,00.html Serie A set for breakaway - SkySports]] [[http://www.guardian.co.uk/football/2009/apr/30/serie-a-b-european-football-italy Italian league splits in two after meeting ends in stalemate - Guardian]]
As of 2007 individual clubs competing in the league have the rights to sell their broadcast rights to specific channels in Italy, unlike in most other European countries. The three broadcasters in Italy are the satellite broadcaster SKY Italia, along with terrestrial broadcasters Mediaset Premium and Dahlia TV for their own pay television networks; RAI is allowed to broadcast only highlights (in exclusive from 13:30 to 22:30 CET).
This is a list of television rights in Italy (until 2009–2010):
*SKY Italia (all matches)
*Mediaset Premium (all matches of Milan, Inter, Juventus, Napoli, Roma, Lazio and matches in house and guests of the above teams of Genoa, Atalanta, Chievo, Bari)
*Dahlia TV (all matches of Fiorentina, Palermo, Sampdoria, Cagliari, Catania, Bologna and matches in house and guests of the above teams of Livorno, Siena, Parma, Udinese)
In countries outside of Italy, the league is broadcast on Raitalia (numerous countries in several continents), KBS Sports (South Korea), TV+ (Bulgaria), RCTI, Global TV (Indonesia), Arena Sport (Serbia), Sport Klub (Serbia), Kohavision (Kosovo), NTV Turkey (Turkey), Telma (Macedonia), mio TV (Singapore), Telelatino & Fox Sports World Canada (Canada), Fox Soccer Channel (United States), Sport1 (The Netherlands), ESPN (UK) (United Kingdom), TV Esporte Interativo, Rede Gazeta, TV Cultura, ESPN Brasil, Sportv (Brazil) and ESPN Latin America (Latin America), TrueVisions (Thailand), Neo Sports, TEN Sports (India) and Al Jazeera Sports (Middle East And North Africa).
In Australia ''Serie A'' is broadcast by Setanta Sports Australia (the home games of 10 teams in the league) with 2 games per week, ESPN Australia (the home games of the top 10 teams in the league) with three live games per week and Raitalia with four live games per week. Digital channel One HD will also begin broadcasting Serie A matches this coming season.
*The 1926-1927 title was initially won by Torino F.C., but was rescinded due to the Allemandi scam.
*The 2004-05 and 2005-2006 titles were initially won by Juventus, but were rescinded due to the Calciopoli scam. The 2004-05 title was not assigned, while the 2005-06 title was subsequently assigned to Internazionale.
*A decoration was awarded to Spezia Calcio in 2002 by FIGC for the 1944 wartime championship. However, the Federation stated that it can't be considered as a ''scudetto''.
Serie A clubs
:''For more details see List of Italian Football Championship clubs''
Prior to 1929, many clubs competed in the top level of Italian football as the earlier rounds were competed up to 1922 on a regional basis then interregional up to 1929. Below is a list of Serie A clubs who have competed in the competition when it has been a league format (60 in total).
Seasons in Serie A
The bolded teams compete in Serie A currently. Internazionale is the only team that has played Serie A football in every season.
Serie A members for 2009–10
The following twenty clubs will be competing in Serie A during the 2009–10 season.
Unlike La Liga imposed quota on numbers of non-EU players on each clubs; Serie A clubs could sign non-EU players as many as available on domestic transfer. But since 2003-04 season, quota was imposed on each clubs for signing non-EU, non-EFTA and non-Swiss player from abroad.
Since 2008-09 season, 3 quotas will be awarded to clubs that do not have non-EU players in their squad; Clubs that have one non-EU player have 2 quotas.
Those clubs which have 2 non-EU players, they will be awarded 1 quota and 1 conditional quota, which awarded after: 1) Transferred 1 non-EU player abroad, or 2) Release 1 non-EU player as free agent, or 3) A non-EU player received EU nationality.
Clubs with 3 or more non-EU players, will have 2 conditional quotas, but releasing two non-EU players as free agent, will only have 1 quota instead of 2. Serie B and Lega Pro clubs cannot sign non-EU player from abroad, except those followed the club promoted from Serie D.
Big clubs with many foreigner, usually borrowed quota from other clubs which have few foreigner or no foreigner, in order to sign more non-EU players . Adrian Mutu joined Juventus via Livorno in 2005, as at that time Romania is not a member of EU. Other case likes Júlio César and Maxwell joined Internazionale from Chievo and Empoli respectively.
FIFA World Players of the Year
* Lothar Matthäus: 1991 (Internazionale)
* Marco van Basten: 1992 (Milan)
* Roberto Baggio: 1993 (Juventus)
* George Weah: 1995 (Milan*)
* Ronaldo: 1997 (Internazionale*)
* Zinedine Zidane: 1998, 2000 (Juventus)
* Ronaldo: 2002 (Internazionale**)
* Fabio Cannavaro: 2006 (Juventus**)
* Kaká 2007 (Milan)
*Player was a member of the club for the first half of the calendar year (The second part of a finished season - January to June)
**Player was a member of the club for the second half of the calendar year (The first part of a new season - July to December)