A Beginner’s Guide to Serie A & Serie B (Italy Edition)

If you ask a soccer fanatic what country they think of when you say football (or soccer, depending on name preferences), Italy would be the most common response, for tradition-driven, family-driven, player-driven and, of course, history-driven reasons.

The History of Serie A Italy 

In 1898, Italy’s first official set of soccer matches, a knockout-style tournament, were played by Internazionale Torino, FBC Torinese, Ginnastica Torino and Genoa (winner); the first tournament ever endorsed by the Italian Football Federation. By 1929 came the birth of the Serie A, a first division for Italian soccer and the second division known as Serie B. 

This 1929 season saw northern and southern Italian teams, which had previously played under separate confederation (CCI) and federation (FIGC) umbrellas, ultimately come together into one national soccer division setup, complete with a national championship to be played for

The very first title was won by Ambrosiana, now known in the league as Football Club Internazionale Milano or Inter Milan. 

Current Serie A teams include Atalanta, Bologna, Cagliari, Empoli, Fiorentina, Genoa, Hellas Verona, Juventus, Lazio, AC Milan, Napoli, Roma, Salernitana, Sampdoria, Sassuolo, Spezia, Torino, Udinese and Venezia. 

Notable Italian names in Serie A football history have included goalkeeper Gianluigi Buffon (Parma, Juventus), attacking midfielder Francesco Totti (Roma), goalkeeper Gianluca Pagliuca (Sampdoria, Internazionale, Bologna, Ascoli), defender Paolo Maldini (AC Milan), goalkeeper Dino Zoff (Udinese, Mantova, Napoli, Juventus) and record-scoring striker Silvio Piola (Pro Vercelli, Lazio, Juventus, Novara). 

Top-performing internationals who’ve played in the Italian football scene have included stars such as Argentinian midfielder Diego Maradona (Napoli), German midfielder Lothar Matthäus (Internazionale), French midfielder Zinedine Zidane (Juventus), Brazilian striker Ronaldo Luís Nazário de Lima (Internazionale) and Dutch striker Marco van Basten (AC Milan). 

If you’re counting cups, so far, the top ranking of Italian championships goes Juventus (36), Internazionale (19), AC Milan (18), Genoa (9) plus Genoa, Torino and Pro Vercelli at a 3-way tie with 7 each.

As it currently stands, Serie A is a 20-team league, with 3 club spots specifically for those promoted from Serie B. But what happens if you’re not a well-performing squad in Serie A?

Just as Serie B teams can be promoted into Serie A, Serie A teams can be relegated down to Serie B. 

This means that clubs in Serie A are not only fighting for a top spot to be champions, but they’re also fighting to stay away from the lowest three spots aka the relegation risk. 

Serie A’s 2020-21 season concluded with the relegation of Parma, Crotone and Benevento. Their three positions in the 2021-2022 Serie A club roster would become occupied by the promoted Serie B teams Empoli, Salernitana and Venezia.

You can catch Serie A action on television networks like BT Sport (United Kingdom), ESPN (South America, Central America and the Caribbean), TLN (Canada), CBS Sports (United States) and many more. 

(Looking to connect your business or brand’s digital presence with updates from Serie A? There’s an API for that.)

This brings us to a deeper look at Serie B! 

The History of Serie B Italy 

In 1904, senior town squads, junior city squads and youth city squads played in a national tourney in what had been called Second Category. Champions of Second Category would be promoted to First Category, but there was no relegation of First Category teams to Second Category until 1921 when a league known as the Northern League became comprised of a First Division and Second Division. 

In a desire for reformation, Serie B was birthed in 1929 in the form of a new 18-team Second Division with national formatting, an expansion of the previous Second Division’s regional proximity formatting.  

This nationwide programming was interrupted by a north-south split due to post-World War II logistics but returned to its original form in 1948. A 20-club division at the time of this reunion, the division roster was eventually expanded to 24 and then lowered to 22 after the 2003-2004 season. 

In 2010, 19 of 20 clubs of first division Serie A voted to split Serie A and Serie B into two completely separate leagues of play; the sole downvote coming from Lecce, a squad that had been facing relegation at the time. These leagues became known as Lega Serie A and Lega Serie B. 

At the end of each Serie B season, the top team is awarded a champion trip trophy called the Ali della Vittoria, which in English translates to Wings of Victory, the three top teams are promoted to Serie A and the bottom three teams are relegated to Serie C.

The 5 clubs with the most titles won in Serie B history have been Atalanta (6), Genoa (6), Palermo (5), Bari (4) and Brescia (4). 

As of the 2021-2022 season, Serie B includes Alessandria (promoted from Serie C), Ascoli, Benevento, Brescia, Cittadella, Como (promoted from Serie C), Cosenza, Cremonese, Crotone, Frosinone, L.R. Vicenza, Lecce, Monza, Parma, Perugia (promoted from Serie C), Pisa, Pordenone, Reggina, Spal and Ternana. 

Serie B is currently viewable on television networks including Go Italia, Sky Sport Italia, Fox Soccer Plus (United States) and more. 

A Brief Overview of Serie C Italy

Formed in 1926, Serie C is Italy’s 3rd-highest soccer division. Historically, Serie C has also been known as Lega Pro Divisione Unica (2014), or Lega Pro for short. The branding returned to Serie C, a name first given in 1935, after a unanimous vote in 2017.  

Divided into 3 groups, 60 teams make up the division. At the conclusion of each season, 3 teams are promoted into Serie B while 9 are relegated to Serie D. (And no, the next division down is not called Serie E)

Serie C is broadcasted via Eleven Sports Italy and 196 Sports (International). A Serie C API is also available here

Ready for More on Italian Football?

You can connect your audiences and consumers with all the important Serie B updates – including live scores, fixtures, standings and further history – using our Serie B API! 

Additional Italian football APIs available through Live Score API are Serie C, Coppa Italia, Super Cup and the aforementioned Serie A!

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