Italian Serie A

Serie A (Lega Nazionale Professionisti Serie A) is the name of the top Italian football league and has existed since 1898 and since 1929 as structured today. Since 1961, the winner gets the trophy called Coppa Campioni d'Italia. When the league was established it included 18 clubs, but since when it has decreased and expanded many times: from 16 as minimum to 21 clubs as maximum (since the 2004-2005 season, 20 clubs has been included). Today the division is also referred to Lega Serie A, or more commonly only Serie A.

Basic facts

Founded: 1929 (1898)
Country: Italy
Organizer: Lega Serie A

League records

Most championships: Juventus (35)
Most played seasons: Internazionale (88)


An Italian National Championship was decided already in 1898 and Genoa Cricket & Athletic Club became the first champions, although the whole competition was decided upon one match.

For some more than two decades, the competition was divided into regional groups. During the period 1922-1929 different arrangement was tried until several interregional divisions was merging into one. At this time was also Serie B, the second highest division introduced. This coincided with a period in Italian football when the leading Fascist party dictated that no foreigners were allowed in the football league. This was counterweighed to a high degree by the import of Italian ancestries, so-called rimpatriato, from South America.

In 1964, the league became the Lega Serie A when the Lega Calcio was founded in replace of Italian Federal Football Association.

Scudetti, which is Italian for “little shield” has since the 1924 been a shield (i.e. logo) been awarded to the winner to wear on the shirt. The team winning the Serie A is often referred to “winning the scudetto”.

League system

Serie A is the top level of the Italian football league system. The second division was founded in 1929 and is known as Serie B. Some years later a third tier, Serie C was founded. An overview of the current national league system is presented in table 1.

Table 1. Italian football tiers
Club Tier
Serie A 1
Serie B 2
Serie C 3

Below the third tier the league is played on semi- or non-professional levels with regional divisions.

Qualification for European Cups

The top three teams in Seria A are qualified for the Champions League (one place also goes to the winner of the Coppa Italia) and the teams that are placed 3-6 will also get the chance to play in European Cups.


Since the season 2006-2007 the three teams placed at the bottom of the table (places 18-20) have been relegated to Serie B. In the 2005-2006 season only two teams were relegated. Before that two teams (places 18-20) were relegated directly and two teams (places 17-18) would go to playoffs consisting of a two-legged game in which the winner avoided relegation.



Teams with most titles

Statistics of all Italian clubs that have won the top division, concerning the period 1929-2023.

Table 2. Clubs and Italian Football Championship titles
Club Titles 1st title
Juventus 36 1905
Milan 19 1901
Internazionale 19 1952-53
Genoa 9 1898
Pro Vercelli 7 1908
Torino 7 1926-27
Bologna 7 1924-25
Roma 3 1941-42
Napoli 3 1986-87
Fiorentina 2 1955-56
Lazio 2 1973-74
Casele 1 1913-14
Novese 1 1921-22
Cagliari 1 1969-70
Hellas Verona 1 1984-85
Sampdoria 1 1990-91

In addition, Juventus won the league in season 2004-05, but the title was later revoked.

Notice that seasons before the establishment of Serie A in 1929 is also included. Genoa CFC for example, won all their titles before 1929.

Teams with most Serie A participation

Statistics of the Italian clubs that have participated more than 50 times in Serie A during the period 1929-2020.

Table 3. Clubs and league participation
Club Participation
Internazionale 89
Juventus 88
Roma 88
Milan 87
Fiorentina 83
Lazio 78
Torino 77
Napoli 75
Bologna 74
Atalanta 60
Genoa 54

Between the first season and the last, in total 67 clubs have participated in top division of the Spanish league.

Numbers of teams included

Overview of the number of teams that have participated from season to season.

Table 4. Number of participating teams
Seasons Teams
2004/2005– 20
1988/1999–2003/2004 18
1967/1968–1987/1988 16
1952/1953–1966/1967 18
1948/1949–1951/1952 20
1947/1948 21
1946/1947 20
1934/1935–1942/1943 16
1929/1930–1933/1934 18

Due to the World War II, no seasons were played during the period 1944-1945.


Capacity of Serie A stadiums

The capacity of the teams participating in Serie A is shown i table 5. San Siro, where both Internazionale and Milan plays, has the highest capacity with over 80,00 seats. The average capacity in the league is 39,410.

Table 5. The stadium capacities in the Serie A season 2018-2019
Team Stadium name Capacity
Atalanta Atleti Azzurri d'Italia 21,300
Bologna Renato Dall'Ara 38,279
Cagliari Sardegna Arena 16,233
Chievo Stadio Marc'Antonio Bentegodi 38,402
Empoli Stadio Carlo Castellani 16,284
Fiorentina Stadio Artemio 43,147
Frosinone Stadio Benito Stirpe 16,227
Genoa Stadio Luigi Ferraris 36,685
Internazionale San Siro 80,018
Juventus Juventus Stadium 41,507
Lazio Stadio Olimpico 72,698
Milan San Siro 80,018
Napoli Stadio San Paolo 60,240
Parma Stadio Ennio Tardini 27,906
Roma Stadio Olimpico 72,698
Sampdoria Stadio Luigi Ferraris 36,685
Sassuolo Mapei Stadium 23,717
SPAL Stadio Paolo Mazza 13,020
Torino Stadio Olimpico di Torino 27,994
Udinese Stadio Friuli-Dacia Arena 25,132


Top goalscorers

The league's all-time leading goalscorer is Silvio Piola who played in Cagliari Calcio and who's career lasted from 1929 to 1952. In thís period he scored 274 times in Serie A.

Next to Piola, Francesco Totti is the top goalscorer with 250 goals between 1992 and 2017.

Francesco Totti
Francesco Totti in Roma uniform.

Other notable goalscorer in the league are Gunnar Nordahl, José Altafini, Giuseppe Meazza, Antonio Di Natale and Roberto Baggio. They all scored over 200 times.

Players with most appearances

The player with most appearances is the defender Paulo Maldini who played for Milan between 1984 and 2009 and was recorded for 647 matches. As writing, the goalkeeper Gianluigi Buffon is still active and will probably take over the record from Maldini in a relative near future. Buffon has 644 appearances in November 2019.

There are four players with more than 600 appearances in Serie A, the other two besides Maldini and Buffon are Francesco Totti and Javier Zanetti. Zanetti holds the record with most games among foreign players.

By Oscar Anderson

Serie A timeline

1898 The Italian Football Federation (Federazione Italiana Giuoco Calcio; FIGC) is founded.
1921 Prima Divisione (a predecessor to Serie A) is branded as the first level of the Italian Football Championship.
1926 Divisione Nazionale (a predecessor to Serie A) is branded as the first level of the Italian Football Championship.
1929 The Serie A is established.
1929 The league is expanded to 18 clubs.
1934 The league is reduced to 16 clubs.
1943 The 1943-44 season is cancelled due to the WWII.
1945 The league is restored after the war.
1946 The league is expanded to 20 clubs.
1947 The league is expanded to 21 clubs.
1948 The league is reduced to 20 clubs.
1967 The league is reduced to 16 clubs.
1988 The league is expanded to 18 clubs.
1993 From the 1993-94 season, wins are awarded three points instead of two.
2004 The league is expanded to 20 clubs.

The Ball is Round: A Global History of Football – David Goldblatt (2008)
Image source:
Roberto Vicario