Football, hugely popular in Turkey, was brought there in the second half of the 19th century when English tobacco and cotton traders visited the main harbour towns of the Ottoman Empire.
In the beginning they played football with each other, and later taught the game to their Turkish neighbours.The first football match on Turkish grounds was played in Salonika in 1875. After that, football was played in Istanbul and İzmir. But during this time, football was only played between English and Greek people. This was also the case in the first Turkish league, named the Istanbul Football League.But some young Turkish men, who loved this game at once, began to play football in open fields without observing any rules.
These young players formed the first Turkish team, playing their first match on 26 October, 1901, against a Greek team. Then the club Beşiktas, founded in 1903, became the first Turkish club to enter the Istanbul League.
When the clubs Fenerbahçe and Galatasaray also entered this league, the real period of Turkish football began.
A very strong love for football widened to the whole nation. After this period football in Turkey started to develop very fast and treating football like a "national matter" continued until now.
Turkey has a big potential in footbal. There are 4,956 football clubs organized in Turkey, and a registered 4,775 professional and 136,823 amateur players with 233 women. 796 male and 20 female football referees are licensed by the TFF.
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