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Soccer in South Africa

Association football is the most popular sport in South Africa. The governing body is the South African Football Association. The country's top league is the Premier Soccer League, while the main cup competitions are the Nedbank Cup, Telkom Knockout,and the MTN 8 Cup.

SAFA currently control all national football teams, and most football leagues in South Africa. The notable exceptions are the Premier Soccer League and the National First Division, the top two leagues in the country. The leagues are controlled by the National Soccer League, which also controls most major cup competitions.

League system

South Africa has a number of different football leagues, controlled by different organisations. The top two leagues are professional or semi-professional, and run by the PSL. The lower leagues are mostly amateur, and run by SAFA.

1. South African Premier Division

The Premier Soccer League was founded in 1996, as a merger between the National Premier Soccer League and the National Soccer League. The Premier Division is the current top league in South Africa, with the winner being crowned as the national champion. The league is made up of 16 teams, all of which are professional. At the end of each season one team is automatically relegated to the National First Division, a second team may also be relegated through a play-off. The relegated teams are replaced by one or two teams from the National First Division.

2. National First Division (Vodacom League)

The National First Division is the current second tier in South African football. The league is made up of 16 teams, which are either professional or semi-professional. The league is governed and controlled by the same body which runs the Premier Soccer League. The league winner is automatically promoted to the Premier Soccer League at the end of the season. Another highly placed team may also be promoted through a play-off. At the end of the season two bottom clubs are relegated, and replaced by two play-off winners from the Vodacom League.

3. SAFA Second Division

The SAFA Second Division is the third tier of South African football, and the highest tier directly controlled by the South African Football Association. The league is played on a provincial basis, and made up mostly of semi-professional sides. 144 clubs are divided into nine, 16 team leagues. At the end of the season the nine league winners enter into a series of play-offs to earn the two promotion places in the National First Division. The bottom two teams in each league are relegated to the SAB Regional League.

4. SAB Regional League

The SAB Regional League is the fourth tier of South African football, and the second highest tier controlled by the South African Football Association. The league is made up of 832 clubs, divided into 52 leagues. Each of the 52 leagues is associated with one of the nine provincial leagues in the Vodacom League, and are usually amateur teams. The regional league winners enter into a series of play-offs in their province, to gain two places in each provincial league in the Vodacom League.

5. LFA Football Leagues

Leagues below the SAB Regional League are controlled by SAFA's Local Football Associations. The number of teams and leagues at this level can vary greatly depending on the area and the population. Teams in these leagues are almost always amateur.

6. Youth Football Leagues: (SAFA U19 National League)

There are several different youth football leagues, organised along geographic lines. The main youth competition is the U19 National League, run along local football association lines.

7. Tertiary Football

Most universities in South Africa include football programs for both men and women. Most clubs play in the amateur leagues, competing against non-university sides. The exception is in the Gauteng province, where clubs play in the Gauteng Football League.

The two largest university football tournaments are the USSA Football tournament and Varsity Sports Football Challenge. The USSA tournament is open to all universities, and allows separate teams for different campuses. The Varsity Sports tournament is only open to universities aligned to the University Sports Company, and only allows one club per university.

The University of the Witwatersrand and University of Pretoria each run professional clubs, Bidvest Wits and Tuks F.C., which play on their campuses and campaign in the South African Premier Division. Maluti FET College F.C. competes in the National First Division.

Schools Football

There are also several leagues for high school and junior school football teams, however many private and former model c schools have chosen not to include football programs. The largest schools football tournament is the Kay Motsepe Cup.



Staff writter

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