Founded in 1934, the Liechtenstein Football Association (Liechtensteiner Fussballverband or LFV) represents a principality of only 35,000 people. However, its senior national side has played in UEFA European Championship and FIFA World Cup qualifying tournaments since 1994, and, with a total of 100 teams covering both sexes and all age groups, the association has approximately 1,900 registered footballers.
The best of the Alpine country's footballing talent is displayed at one of seven senior clubs who compete in the Swiss league system. FC Vaduz are the oldest, established in 1932, followed by FC Balzers (1932), FC Triesen (1932), FC Schaan (1932), FC Ruggell (1958), FC USV Eschen-Mauren (1963) and FC Triesenberg (1972). Vaduz are the only fully professional outfit.
Vaduz, the nation's capital, is also home to the Rheinpark Stadium, built to FIFA and UEFA specifications and opened in 1998. The stadium, one of seven football facilities boasting 21 pitches in all, has 6,127 covered seats. It is from this setup that 11 players have emerged to become professionals in major European leagues.
The LFV joined the game's European and world bodies, UEFA and FIFA, in 1974. International recognition was a positive development for soccer in Liechtenstein, enabling the association to play its part in the football family. In 2003, UEFA entrusted the LFV with staging the UEFA European Under-19 Championship. Five years later the UEFA Executive Committee, meeting in Liechtenstein for the first time, named the country as host nation of the 2010 UEFA European U17 Championship. Liechtenstein, bordered by Austria and Switzerland, was also a venue for staff events relating to the UEFA EURO 2008 finals held in these neighbouring countries.
A milestone event on the pitch occurred when Vaduz were promoted to the professional ranks of Swiss football's second tier, the Challenge League, in 2001. Vaduz bettered that achievement by spending the 2008/09 season in Switzerland's top flight, the Super League. Vaduz, Balzers, Triesen, Schaan, Ruggell, Eschen-Mauren and Triesenberg – and their reserve teams – also contest the Liechtenstein Football Cup, which the LFV has organised every year since 1946. Since all these clubs play their league football in the Swiss pyramid, the cup is the closest thing to a national championship, albeit with a knockout system. Vaduz have the most cup victories with 38. The winners entered the UEFA Cup Winners' Cup between 1992 and 1999, since when they have proceeded to the qualifying rounds of the UEFA Cup or UEFA Europa League.
Liechtenstein's senior national side made their debut in a 1-0 defeat by Switzerland in Balzers on 9 March 1982. It was another 12 years before their competitive bow in EURO '96 qualifying: a 4-1 loss to Northern Ireland on 20 April 1994. Daniel Hasler scored the historic consolation goal. Liechtenstein have featured in every subsequent qualification tournament: 1998 FIFA World Cup, UEFA EURO 2000, 2002 World Cup, UEFA EURO 2004, 2006 World Cup, UEFA EURO 2008 and 2010 World Cup. Their best performance was an eight-point haul in the 2006 World Cup campaign, with home and away wins against Luxembourg. Going into 2010, they had six competitive victories.
It is at junior level that Liechtenstein have reached a final tournament, qualifying for the UEFA European Under-16 Championship (now U17) in Scotland in 1998. The principality's most promising young footballers – aged U14, U15, U16 and U18 – participate in the youth development competitions of the Swiss Football Association (SFV-ASF).
So the LFV had much to celebrate on its 75th anniversary in 2009. It marked the occasion with a glamour friendly against Portugal, followed by an U16 mini-tournament involving the hosts, Switzerland, Germany and Austria. Finally, on 11 September, the LFV held a gala evening for the entire football family.
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