Football is the most popular sport in Lebanon. It was introduced in Lebanon in the late 19th century, becoming particularly popular among teachers and students in Christian schools. The Lebanese Football Association (LFA) was formed in 1933 as one of the earliest governing bodies for association football in the Middle East. The Lebanese national team made its unofficial debut in 1935 against Romanian club CA Timisoara (TA.A.C.), while its first official FIFA game was against Mandatory Palestine in 1940. Lebanon Football History.
Lebanon National Team
While Lebanon’s national team has yet to win a major international title, Ahed became the first Lebanese club to win the AFC Cup in 2019. The national under-18 team was the first Lebanese men’s national team to compete in the finals and finished as runners-up. Up in the 2021 WAFF U-18 Championship.
Football in Lebanon was introduced by the educated class in Lebanon. Played by foreign teachers at the American University of Beirut (AUB) in the late 1800s, soccer became increasingly popular with the migration of Armenians to Lebanon during the French Mandate. Football was seen as an elite activity and was mainly played in Christian schools.
In 1931, Khalil Hilmi, a member of Math, tried to form a federation. However, the proposal failed as Nahda opposed the formation. On March 22, 1933, representatives of thirteen football clubs gathered in the Manet al-Hassan district of Beirut to form the Lebanese Football Association (LFA). Hussain Sejan was the first president of LFA.
Lebanon was one of the first nations in the Middle East to establish a governing body for association football. The Lebanese Premier League began in May 1934, with Nahda winning the first title. The LFA joined FIFA in 1936.
The first activity of the Lebanese national team began in 1935. The Beirut XI representing Lebanon played against CA Timișoara (T.A.C.) of Romania: this game was considered the first game of the national team. In the national team’s first official FIFA game on 27 April 1940, a 5–1 loss against Mandatory Palestine, Camille Kordahi scored Lebanon’s first official international goal.
Most of the clubs were born out of sectarianism, such as Sages Maronite Christians, Nahda a Greek Orthodox team, and Ansar with a majority of Sunni Muslim fans. A rivalry developed between Ansar and another Beirut club, Najma: known as the Beirut derby, the match is considered the biggest club football match in Lebanon.
Between the 1940s and 1960s, Armenian clubs, particularly Home Netman and Home Men, were prominent in the early Lebanese football scene. The two clubs shared 11 league titles in 16 seasons between 1943 and 1969. In 1964, LFA joined the Asian Football Confederation (AFC).
Lebanese football was at its peak between 1960 and 1975 until Najma defeated USSR champions Ararat Yerevan in 1974. In 1975, a week before the Lebanese Civil War, Pele, a Brazilian, played a friendly for Najma against a Lebanese Pre-League team. On the day of the star match, 40,000 spectators were present in the stadium in the morning to watch the match. From 1975 to 1990, the civil war made it impossible to practice football.
Miodrag Radulovic was appointe as the team’s new coach in 2015 and led Lebanon in the 2018 World Cup qualifiers played between June 2015 and March 2016. The team was place in a group with Asian runners-up South Korea, Kuwait, and Myanmar. And Laos, Lebanon faced South Korea and Kuwait in the second World Cup qualifier. Lebanon Football History.
Lebanon finished second in the group and, although they were eliminate from the World Cup. They qualified for the third round of the 2019 Asian Cup qualification, played between March 2017 and March 2018.
In the Asian Cup draw, Lebanon has been place in Group B alongside North Korea, Hong Kong, and Malaysia. With five wins and one draw, Lebanon topped the group and qualified for the Cup for the first time. After qualifying as hosts in 2000). Hassan Matouk (who succeeded Roda Antar in 2016 as captain) was key to Lebanon’s success, scoring five goals in six games. Lebanon Football History.
Although Radulovic failed to qualify the team for the 2018 FIFA World Cup. He helped Lebanon reach their first AFC Asian Cup by qualifying for 2019. He was the first Montenegrin manager to help a team qualify for a major tournament. Radulovic (from 24 March 2016 to 11 October 2018) managed an unbeaten streak of 16 games, winning eight and drawing eight, leaving Lebanon behind Spain (26) for the most games played during that time (16). Made the second most unbeaten national team. In September 2018, Lebanon achieved its best-ever FIFA ranking (77th). For more details click here