France

Capital: Paris
Population: 58.7 million
Currency: Euro
Official Language: French
Borders: Belgium (North/East), Germany (East), Switzerland (East), Italy (East), Spain (South), Andorra (South)
GNP per Capita: $26,300 (12th in world)
Main Airport: Charles de Gaulle – Paris

Straddling Western Europe from the English Channel to the Mediterranean, France was Europe’s first modern republic and possessed a colonial empire second only to Britain’s.  Today it is one of the world’s major industrial powers as well as one of the homes of world cuisine.  Tourism is the biggest income provider, and Paris is the most visited city in the world. 

For more details on watching football in France, visit our sister site Football in France.

Ligue 1 (Première division or Division 1 until 2003) is the top division of French and Monegasque football, one of two divisions making up the LFP, the other being Ligue 2. It has been an all-professional league since its inception in 1932 except for the 1943-44 season, during which the Vichy regime abolished professionalism. Since the end of World War II, the French first division has switched several times between an 18- and a 20- team format, the latter being in force today and having the preference of clubs in spite of a busier schedule for the players.

The 20 Ligue 1 teams play each other twice (home and away) during the season for a 38-match schedule. At the end of the season, the bottom three teams in the division are relegated to Ligue 2. This promotion and relegation format, in place since 1995, is a relative novelty in the French top flight. The traditional format has long been direct relegation of the bottom two teams and a play-off between the third-latest first-division team and the winner of the second-division play-offs.Currently, the top three teams in Ligue 1 qualify for the Champions League, with the top two proceeding directly to the group phase. The third-placed team enters in the final qualifying round. The fourth-placed team qualifies for the UEFA Cup. The fifth- and sixth-placed teams can also qualify, depending on results in the two domestic cup competitions.Point allocation follows the international standard with three points for a win, one for a draw, and none for a loss.

The three-point rule was adopted in 1994 after a one-time test in the 1988-89 season. From 1973 to 1976, a “bonus” rule rewarded teams scoring three or more goals in a game with one extra point, regardless of outcome, with the objective of encouraging offensive play. The experience was ultimately inconclusive.Ligue 1 teams standing on equal points are ranked by goal difference (goals scored minus goals conceded) and, if still even, by the number of goals scored. Until 1966, the league used goal average (the ratio of goals scored to goals conceded) instead of goal difference to break ties on points. This system actually favored the defensive over the offensive, as shown by the outcome of the 1961-62 season: Stade de Reims edged Racing Club de Paris for the title by a 0.018 difference in goal average (i.e., a single goal over the entire season) and was crowned champion on equal points in spite of equal goal difference (83-60 vs. 86-63) and fewer goals scored.

Ligue 1 is generally regarded as competently run, with good planning of fixtures, complete and consistently enforced rules, timely resolution of issues, and adequate escalation procedures of judicial disputes to national or international institutions. It has faced three significant corruption scandals in its history (Olympique d’Antibes in 1933, Red Star in the 1950s, and Olympique de Marseille in 1993) and has preserved its reputation every time through swift and appropriately severe punishment of the guilty parties.Thanks to Wikipedia for the information above.

For a better overview of football in France, go to Footiemap.com to view their excellent and comprehensive graphical overview of French football.

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