Football/Soccer (known locally as foeta or sakūra) is a very popular sport in Shaelia, generally ranking behind only Shaelic football in terms of popularity and television viewership. The game enjoys a high rate of participation among the youth, outpacing other sports, including ice hockey (the #2 participation team sport in the country among persons under 18). It is played at a variety of levels throughout the country, from the professional ranks, to amateur adult leagues, to youth leagues, to universities. At present there are 169 universities around the country sponsoring football/soccer (men teams only), organized into three levels of competition.
Nationally, the sport of football/soccer is governed by the Foetada Nade Šaeleneiri (FNŠ, “Shaelia Football Association”), or Foeta Šaeleneiri (“Football Shaelia”), and was founded in 1911. The organization is popularly referred to by the abbreviation FOENA. FOENA is a member of CONCACAF (affiliated in 1961), the North American Football Union, and FIFA (affiliated in 1912). It’s FIFA member code is SHA.
The first soccer clubs in the country trace their beginnings back to 1909, when seven clubs were founded (collectively referred to as Sata Him (“The Seven Clubs”).
The Professional Soccer League (Jinbaeoa Foetara), since 1997 universally referred to as Ganiliga (pronounced /gɑni’ligɐ/), and also known as the Bank of Shaelia National League (Šaegéloda Ganiliga) for sponsorship reasons, is the top professional association football competition in the country. It was founded in 1923 as a ten-club competition for clubs located in Tiorpa and Azalae. As of the 2015-16 season, its eighteen member clubs average a little more than 31,700 spectators per game, second domestically in average attendance only to AVSO. Ganiliga also draws just over 9.7 million spectators a season, ranking it only behind JINZX domestically in total attendance. Globally, Ganiliga ranks only behind the Premier League in England and the Bundesliga in Germany in both total and average attendance for football competitions. There is well-developed league system for football in the country, and at the conclusion of each season one or two clubs are relegated to the Deiza Liga and replaced by the top finishing clubs in that league for the following season.