The Italian football league system is a series of interconnected leagues for football clubs in Italy.
At the top is the Lega Nazionale Professionisti ('National Professional League', often referred to as 'Lega Calcio'), which has two divsions (Serie A and Serie B). Below that is the Lega Professionisti ('Professional League'), which has five divisions: two in Serie C1 (the upper level) and three in Serie C2 (the lower level). Below that is the simply named Serie D, a league of nine regional divisions that is organised by the Comitato Interregionale ('Interregional Committee').
Under them are five more levels (Eccelenza, Promozione, Prima Categoria, Seconda Categoria and Terza Categoria), each divided into regional divisions.
The first leagues were started by English emigrants in the 1890s in Italy. The first club was Genoa Cricket and Athletic Club (now Genoa 1893). Initially there were separate leagues for Italians and foreigners, they merged around 1897. In March 1898, the Italian Football Federation (Federazione Italiana Giuoco Calcio , FIGC) was set up in Torino. With four clubs joining - Genoa, FC Torinese, Internazionale di Torino and the Gymnastic Society of Torino. Other clubs existed but decided not to join. The first league took place on a single day, May 8, 1898 in Torino. The title was won by Genoa.
Genoa were the initial force in Italian football. They won the championship in 1899, 1900, 1902, 1903, and 1904. Following a split at the Gymnastic Society of Torino two clubs were formed - Milan FBC and FBC Juventus, they joined the league in 1900.
The league joined FIFA in 1905 and moved to a league structure, based on regions, in the same year. Other clubs joined the Federation, especially from north Italy. Pro Vercelli won the championship five times between 1908-1913.
Following the interruption of World War I a new association was briefly created in competition with the FIGC, the Confederazione Calcistica Italiana (CCI). And in 1919 Italy had two champions US Pro Vercelli and US Novese. The two groups merged in 1922.
The move to a national league structure occurred in 1929 with initially eighteen teams in the top league. The first winners in 1930 were Internazionale. The national team also won the World Cup in 1934 and 1938.
After World War II the league returned to a regional structure with a north-south divide and a play-off for a single year before returing to a national league. Torino were the first post-war league champions and went on to win four in a row.
However it is Juventus, A.C. Milan and Internazionale that have dominated the league since World War II, winning 54 titles between them.
- Frequently Asked Questions on Italian Football (http://web.infinito.it/utenti/l/lanerossi/sportsvl/faq.htm)