Iraqi Premier League

The Iraqi Premier Football League (Arabic: الدوري العراقي الممتاز‎), is the top level of the Iraqi football league system. Contested by 20 clubs, it is operated by the Iraq Football Association (IFA) and operates on a system of promotion and relegation with the Division One.

Iraqi Premier League
Iraqi League logo.png
Organising bodyIraq Football Association
Founded18 August 1974; 47 years ago (1974-08-18)
CountryIraq
ConfederationAFC
Number of teams20
Level on pyramid1
Relegation toIraq Division One
Domestic cup(s)Iraq FA Cup
Iraqi Super Cup
International cup(s)AFC Champions League
AFC Cup
Arab Club Champions Cup
Current championsAl-Quwa Al-Jawiya (7th title)
(2020–21)
Most championshipsAl-Zawraa
(14 titles)
Top goalscorerSahib Abbas (177)
TV partnersShabab Sport
Al-Rabiaa Sports
Kurdistan 24
Websiteiraqileague.com
Current: 2021–22 Iraqi Premier League

The league was formed by the IFA in 1974 as the Iraqi National League of Clubs, the first nationwide league of clubs in Iraq. The current format sees 20 teams playing 38 matches each (playing each team in the league twice, home and away), totalling 380 matches in the season.

Of the 77 teams to have competed since the inception of the league in 1974, 11 have won the title: Al-Zawraa (14), Al-Quwa Al-Jawiya (7), Al-Talaba (5), Al-Shorta (5), Erbil (4), Al-Rasheed (3), Al-Minaa (1), Salahaddin (1), Al-Jaish (1), Duhok (1) and Naft Al-Wasat (1). The current champions are Al-Quwa Al-Jawiya, who won the title in 2020–21.

HistoryEdit

OriginsEdit

Up until 1973, leagues in Iraq were played at a regional level. The Central FA League, the Basra League and the Kirkuk League were all founded in 1948,[1] while the Mosul League was founded in 1950.[2] The first nationwide league to be held in the country was in the 1973–74 season when the National League was formed, with Al-Quwa Al-Jawiya being crowned champions.[3] The IFA then decided to replace the competition with a new National League of Clubs which would only be open to formally registered clubs and not institute-representative teams.[4]

FoundationEdit

The league held its first season in 1974–75 and was originally composed of ten clubs. The first ever Iraqi Premier League goal was scored by Falah Hassan of Al-Quwa Al-Jawiya (who had been renamed to Al-Tayaran) in a 1–1 draw with Al-Sinaa.[5] Al-Tayaran were crowned champions of the inaugural season which featured the following teams:[6]

"Baghdad's Big Four" dominanceEdit

Results of the 'Big Four' from 1990–2002
Season QWJ SHR TLB ZWR
1989–90 1 3 6 4
1990–91 6 3 2 1
1991–92 1 5 4 2
1992–93 3 4 1 2
1993–94 2 5 3 1
1994–95 2 6 4 1
1995–96 8 3 6 1
1996–97 1 5 3 2
1997–98 2 1 5 3
1998–99 3 5 2 1
1999–2000 2 3 4 1
2000–01 2 3 4 1
2001–02 2 3 1 4
Top four 11 8 10 13
out of 13
  League champions

Ever since the Iraqi Premier League began, it has been dominated by the four biggest clubs in Baghdad: Al-Quwa Al-Jawiya, Al-Shorta, Al-Talaba and Al-Zawraa, who together contest the Baghdad derbies.

Of the four teams, Al-Quwa Al-Jawiya have earned more top-four finishes (35) than any other side over the 43 completed seasons, meanwhile Al-Zawraa have won the league title the most times (14) and Al-Shorta have retained the league most recently in the 2012–13 and 2013–14 seasons. From the 1989–90 season until the 2005–06 season, the league was won by one of the four Baghdad teams every time.

After the 2003 US invasion of Iraq, players started to leave the Baghdad-based clubs and join clubs in the North such as Erbil and Duhok due to the poor security situation in the capital city. This led to a shift in the dominance of the "Big Four" as Erbil won three consecutive league titles from 2007 to 2009 with Duhok winning the league in 2010. In the 2008–09 season, none of Baghdad's Big Four clubs finished in the top four and this is the only time that this has happened in the history of the league; the top four spots were occupied by Erbil, Al-Najaf, Duhok and Al-Amana.[7] Baghdad's Big Four have returned to dominating the league in recent seasons though, winning seven out of the last eight league titles.

Corporate structureEdit

The Premier League is operated by the Iraq Football Association, which is directly involved in the day-to-day operations of the Premier League and has full control over new rules adopted by the league.

Competition formatEdit

CompetitionEdit

There are 20 clubs in the Iraqi Premier League. During the course of a season each club plays the others twice (a double round-robin system), once at their home stadium and once at that of their opponents, for a total of 38 games (however, all matches between Baghdad's Big Four clubs are played at the neutral venue of Al-Shaab Stadium to accommodate more spectators). Teams receive three points for a win and one point for a draw. No points are awarded for a loss. Teams are ranked by total points, then goal difference, and then goals scored. If still equal, teams are deemed to occupy the same position. If there is a tie for the championship, for relegation, or for qualification to other competitions, a play-off match at a neutral venue decides rank. Each club is allowed a maximum of four foreign players in their squad. The winners of the league qualify for the Iraqi Super Cup, a match played against the winners of the Iraq FA Cup (if the league winners also win the Iraq FA Cup, they play the league runners-up instead).

Promotion and relegationEdit

The two teams at the bottom of the table are relegated into the Iraq Division One, while the top two teams in the Division One are promoted. The 18th-placed team and the third-placed team in the Division One play a play-off match. The winner of this play-off plays the next season in the Premier League, and the loser in the Division One.

ClubsEdit

ChampionsEdit

Club Titles Winning seasons
Al-Zawraa 14 1975–76, 1976–77, 1978–79, 1990–91, 1993–94, 1994–95, 1995–96, 1998–99, 1999–2000, 2000–01, 2005–06, 2010–11, 2015–16, 2017–18
Al-Quwa Al-Jawiya 7 1974–75, 1989–90, 1991–92, 1996–97, 2004–05, 2016–17, 2020–21
Al-Talaba 5 1980–81, 1981–82, 1985–86, 1992–93, 2001–02
Al-Shorta 5 1979–80, 1997–98, 2012–13, 2013–14, 2018–19
Erbil 4 2006–07, 2007–08, 2008–09, 2011–12
Al-Rasheed 3 1986–87, 1987–88, 1988–89
Al-Minaa 1 1977–78
Salahaddin 1 1982–83
Al-Jaish 1 1983–84
Duhok 1 2009–10
Naft Al-Wasat 1 2014–15

2021–22 seasonEdit

Twenty clubs compete in the 2021–22 Iraqi Premier League, including three promoted from the Division One:

2021–22
Club
2020–21
Position
First season in
Premier League
Seasons
in Premier
League
First season of
current spell in
top division
Premier
League
titles
Most
recent Premier
League title
Al-Diwaniya 16th 1988–89 14 2017–18 0
Al-Kahrabaa 14th 2004–05 17 2014–15 0
Al-Karkh 10th 1990–91 26 2018–19 0
Al-Minaa[a] 8th 1974–75 46 1990–91 1 1977–78
Al-Naft[b] 6th 1985–86 37 1985–86 0
Al-Najaf[b] 3rd 1987–88 35 1987–88 0
Al-Qasim[b] 15th 2019–20 3 2019–20 0
Al-Quwa Al-Jawiya[a][b] 1st 1974–75 48 1974–75 7 2020–21
Al-Shorta[a][b] 4th 1974–75 48 1974–75 5 2018–19
Al-Sinaa[a] 1st (Division One) 1974–75 38 2021–22 0
Al-Talaba[b] 17th 1975–76 47 1975–76 5 2001–02
Al-Zawraa[b] 2nd 1975–76 47 1975–76 14 2017–18
Amanat Baghdad[a] 7th 1974–75 29 2008–09 0
Erbil 12th 1987–88 30 2018–19 4 2011–12
Naft Al-Basra 11th 2004–05 17 2012–13 0
Naft Al-Wasat[b] 5th 2014–15 8 2014–15 1 2014–15
Naft Maysan 13th 2009–10 11 2013–14 0
Newroz[b] 2nd (Division One) 2021–22 1 2021–22 0
Samarra 3rd (Division One) 1989–90 23 2021–22 0
Zakho 9th 2002–03 17 2019–20 0
  1. ^ a b c d e Founding member of the Premier League
  2. ^ a b c d e f g h i Never been relegated from the Premier League


Location of clubs in Iraq for the 2021–22 Premier League season

Seasons in Premier LeagueEdit

77 teams have taken part in at least a single round of the Iraqi Premier League since its first season in 1974–75 up until the 2021–22 season (not counting the qualifying rounds of the 2000–01 season). The teams in bold are competing in the Iraqi Premier League in the 2021–22 season. Al-Quwa Al-Jawiya and Al-Shorta are the only teams to have played in every single one of the 48 Iraqi Premier League seasons.

  1. ^ The Iraq Youth Team played the second half of the 1990–91 season to accommodate for the withdrawal of Erbil. They also played the first half of the 1993–94 season but were then replaced by Babil who adopted the Iraq Youth Team's record.

International competitionsEdit

Qualification for Asian competitionsEdit

Qualification criteria for 2022Edit

From the 2021–22 season, the champions of the Premier League qualify for the subsequent season's AFC Champions League group stage, while the league runners-up qualify for the AFC Cup group stage alongside the winner of the Iraq FA Cup. If the same team wins the league and the cup, the third-placed team in the league qualifies for the AFC Cup group stage. The winners of the AFC Champions League and AFC Cup may earn an additional qualification for the subsequent season's AFC Champions League qualifying play-offs if they are not in the top two.

The number of places allocated to Iraqi clubs in AFC competitions is dependent upon the position the country holds in the AFC Club Competitions Ranking, which is calculated based upon the performance of teams in AFC competitions in the previous four years.

Ranking Member Association Club Points 100% ACL 2023
(GS+PO)
AFC Cup 2023
(GS+PO)
2021 2020 Mvmt Region 2018 2019 2020 2021 Total
1 3   +2 1 (W)   Saudi Arabia 10.000 26.350 0.000 18.450 54.800 100.000 3+1 0
2 6   +4 1 (E)   South Korea 18.350 13.600 0.000 21.875 53.825 98.221 3+1 0
3 2   –1 2 (E)   Japan 13.850 21.800 0.000 17.875 53.525 97.673 3+1 0
4 5   +1 2 (W)   Iran 18.850 11.500 0.000 14.225 44.575 81.341 3+1 0
5 4   –1 3 (W)   Qatar 19.850 15.900 0.000 7.300 43.050 78.558 2+2 0
6 10   +4 4 (W)   Uzbekistan 9.400 9.000 0.000 16.743 35.143 64.130 2+2 0
7 1   –6 3 (E)   China 16.200 17.350 0.000 0.800 34.350 62.682 2+2 0
8 8   5 (W)   United Arab Emirates 8.100 7.633 0.000 14.400 30.133 54.987 1+2 0
9 7   –2 4 (E)   Thailand 16.200 5.050 0.000 8.500 29.750 54.288 2+2 0
10 12   +2 6 (W)   Jordan 7.633 7.967 0.000 10.833 26.433 48.235 1+1 1+0
11 25   +14 5 (E)   Hong Kong 3.300 3.650 0.000 16.500 23.450 42.792 1+2 0
12 13   +1 7 (W)   Tajikistan 4.433 3.000 0.000 13.952 21.386 39.026 1+0 1+1
13 9   –4 8 (W)   Iraq 8.633 8.300 0.000 3.250 20.183 36.830 1+0 2+0

Previous performanceEdit

Collectively, Iraqi clubs have reached nine finals of Asian club competitions. Al-Shorta were the first team to do so when they reached the Asian Club Championship final in 1971, defeating holders Taj Tehran 2–0 in the semis. They were set to face Maccabi Tel Aviv in the final but refused to play the game in protest at the Israeli occupation of Palestine, therefore taking the runner-up spot. They were referred to as champions by the Iraqi media and were greeted with a heroes' reception upon their return to Baghdad, holding an open top bus parade.

Al-Rasheed became the second Iraqi team to reach the final of the Asian Club Championship in 1989 but they lost a two-legged final on away goals to Al-Saad of Qatar. Al-Talaba reached the final of the 1995 Asian Cup Winners' Cup but they lost it 2–1 to Bellmare Hiratsuka, and five years later, Al-Zawraa lost the final of the same competition 1–0 to Shimizu S-Pulse in 2000. Erbil reached the final of Asia's second-tier tournament, the AFC Cup, twice in 2012 and 2014 but lost both times to Al-Kuwait and Al-Qadsia respectively. Al-Quwa Al-Jawiya managed to win the AFC Cup when they beat Indian club Bengaluru FC 1–0 in the 2016 final, and they won the competition for the second consecutive season in 2017 by beating FC Istiklol by the same scoreline. They earned a record third AFC Cup title in a row with a 2–0 defeat of Altyn Asyr in 2018.

Performance in Arab competitionEdit

The Premier League champions also qualify for the Arab Club Champions Cup alongside the league runners-up, while the league's third-placed team is admitted into the Arab Club Champions Cup qualifying play-offs.

Al-Shorta won the Arab Club Champions Cup in 1982 by defeating Al-Nejmeh 4–2 on aggregate in the final, Meanwhile, Al-Rasheed won the Arab Club Champions Cup three times in a row in 1985, 1986 and 1987.

SponsorshipEdit

The league was founded as the National League and has been renamed several times, with the current Premier League name remaining in place since 2013. The competition has had title sponsorship rights sold to two companies, which were Asiacell in the 2011–12 season and Fuchs Petrolub in the 2015–16 season.

Period Sponsor Brand
1974–1988 No sponsor National League
1988–1989 Pan-National League
1989–1995 National League
1995–1996 Advanced League
1996–1999 Premier League
1999–2000 First Division
2000–2002 Elite League
2002–2003 First Division
2003–2008 Premier League
2008–2011 Premier Division
2011–2012 Asiacell Asiacell Elite League
2012–2013 No sponsor Elite League
2013–2015 Premier League
2015–2016 Fuchs Fuchs Premier League
2016–present No sponsor Premier League

PlayersEdit

Top scorersEdit

As of 25 November 2021.[4]
Rank Player Goals Years Club (goals)
1   Sahib Abbas 177 1988–1989, 1991–1998, 2001–2002, 2004–2007, 2008, 2008–2010, 2011–2012 Salahaddin (42), Al-Zawraa (62), Al-Talaba (18), Karbalaa (50), Al-Sinaa (5)
2   Karim Saddam 170 1979–1986, 1987–1996 Al-Sinaa (23), Al-Jaish (11), Al-Rasheed (4), Al-Zawraa (126), Al-Shorta (6)
3   Ali Hashim 169 1987–1998, 1999, 2000–2001, 2002–2004 Al-Najaf (148), Al-Karkh (21)
4   Hussein Abdullah 165 1991–2010 Al-Sinaa (32), Al-Naft (16), Diyala (40), Duhok (56), Erbil (14), Kirkuk (2), Peris (5)
5   Amjad Radhi 162 2006–2015, 2016–present Al-Quwa Al-Jawiya (98), Erbil (61), Al-Najaf (3)
6   Younis Abid Ali 157 1983–1993, 1993–2000 Al-Shorta (135), Al-Rasheed (15), Al-Quwa Al-Jawiya (3), Al-Difaa Al-Jawi (4)
7   Hammadi Ahmad 152 2004–present Samarra (19), Al-Quwa Al-Jawiya (133)
8   Ahmed Radhi 146 1981–1993, 1997–1999 Al-Zawraa (103), Al-Rasheed (43)
9   Alaa Kadhim 143 1988–1993, 1996–1998, 1998–2007 Al-Sinaa (8), Al-Talaba (135)
  Alaa Abdul-Zahra 143 2004–2006, 2012–2014, 2014–present Al-Zawraa (54), Duhok (26), Al-Shorta (63)

Italics denotes players still playing professional football,
Bold denotes players still playing in the Iraqi Premier League.

By seasonEdit

AwardsEdit

TrophyEdit

 
The Iraqi Premier League shield for the 2012–13 season.

The current Iraqi Premier League trophy has been in use since the 2009–10 season and was designed by Iraq Football Association member Zuhair Nadhum, with the design being implemented by Qahtan Salim. The materials used to make the trophy were imported from China.

The trophy is a flat shield, predominantly golden in colour. In the centre of the shield is a football made from golden and mirrored pieces, with a map of Iraq in the centre of the ball. Inside the map reads the word Iraq in Arabic, with the words Premier League Shield underneath (also in Arabic) completed with the season. Surrounding the football are the words Iraq Football Association written in Arabic at the top and in English at the bottom in silver text. Surrounding that text is another ring, the top half of which contains the Flag of Iraq and the bottom half of which contains 18 golden stars, representing the 18 historical provinces of Iraq. Connecting the two halves of the outer ring on both sides is the IFA's logo.[8]

RecordsEdit

League recordsEdit

Titles
Wins
  • Most consecutive wins in a season: 11, Al-Shorta (13 March 1998 – 22 May 1998)
  • Most consecutive wins from beginning of season: 9 – joint record:
    • Erbil (2 November 2008 – 2 January 2009)
    • Al-Zawraa (20 November 2017 – 16 January 2018)
Losses
Attendances
Goals

Match recordsEdit

Scorelines

Player recordsEdit

Appearances
Titles
Goals

Managerial recordsEdit

Titles
Manager Club(s) Wins Winning years
  Ayoub Odisho Al-Talaba, Al-Quwa Al-Jawiya (2), Al-Zawraa 4 1992–93, 1996–97, 2017–18, 2020–21
  Jamal Salih Al-Talaba, Al-Rasheed (2) 3 1981–82, 1987–88, 1988–89
  Thair Ahmed Al-Talaba, Erbil (2) 2001–02, 2007–08, 2008–09
  Basim Qasim Duhok, Al-Zawraa, Al-Quwa Al-Jawiya 2009–10, 2015–16, 2016–17
  Saadi Salih Al-Zawraa 2 1975–76, 1976–77
  Ammo Baba Al-Talaba, Al-Zawraa 1980–81, 1993–94
  Amer Jameel Al-Quwa Al-Jawiya, Al-Zawraa 1989–90, 1998–99
  Adnan Hamad Al-Zawraa 1995–96, 1999–2000
  Sabah Abdul-Jalil Al-Zawraa, Al-Quwa Al-Jawiya 2000–01, 2004–05
  Abdelilah Mohammed Hassan Al-Quwa Al-Jawiya 1 1974–75
  Jamil Hanoon Al-Minaa 1977–78
  Anwar Jassam Al-Zawraa 1978–79
  Douglas Aziz Al-Shorta 1979–80
  Wathiq Naji Salahaddin 1982–83
  Munthir Al-Waadh Al-Jaish 1983–84
  Yahya Alwan Al-Talaba 1985–86
  Nasrat Nassir Al-Rasheed 1986–87
  Falah Hassan Al-Zawraa 1990–91
  Adil Yousef Al-Quwa Al-Jawiya 1991–92
  Hadi Mutanish Al-Zawraa 1994–95
  Abdelilah Abdul-Hameed Al-Shorta 1997–98
  Salih Radhi Al-Zawraa 2005–06
  Akram Salman Erbil 2006–07
  Radhi Shenaishil Al-Zawraa 2010–11
  Nizar Mahrous Erbil 2011–12
  Thair Jassam Al-Shorta 2012–13
  Lorival Santos Al-Shorta 2013–14
  Abdul-Ghani Shahad Naft Al-Wasat 2014–15
  Nebojša Jovović Al-Shorta 2018–19

See alsoEdit

ReferencesEdit

  1. ^ "Football leagues set up in Iraq's main centres". The Iraq Times. 16 October 1948.
  2. ^ "Mosul forms new football group". The Iraq Times. 11 December 1950.
  3. ^ Al-Sabti, Ali (2018). Iraqi League History 1956-1974. Iraq.
  4. ^ a b Al-Sabti, Ali (2014). Iraqi League History 1974-2011. Iraq.
  5. ^ "The story of Al-Tayaran winning the first Iraqi League championship". Kooora. 9 May 2009.
  6. ^ Al-Munshi, Dr.Dhia (2005). Iraqi Football Encyclopedia: Chico.. Jamoli… and football in Iraq. Citadel Printing & Design, Al-Saadoun, Baghdad.
  7. ^ http://www.goalzz.com/main.aspx?c=4070 Goalzz.com
  8. ^ "The Iraq Football Association reveals the league shield for the 2012–13 season with materials imported from China". Goal.com (in Arabic). September 3, 2013.

External linksEdit