The Serie A is the top professional football league in Italy. During the first tournament in 1898, four teams competed in only one day. Genoa won the final, and then became Italian champion in the two following tournaments, too. It was still an amateur football, far from the huge audiences and proceeds that came in the following years. Since the 1929-30 season, Serie A has become a round-robin tournament and football has turned into a proper social phenomenon. The winning team receives the title of Italian champion together with the white, red and green scudetto (small shield), which was introduced in 1924. The scudetto is sewn on the jersey for the following season. Since 1961, the winning team also receives the Coppa Campioni d'Italia trophy. The Italian champions directly qualify for the Champions League group stage, together with the second-placed team, whereas the third-placed participate in the qualifying round. The fourth-placed team qualifies for the Europa League rounds; the fifth-placed qualifies for the third preliminary round.
The professional Serie A season takes place from August to May; 20 teams participate. Each match lasts for 90 minutes, divided into two 45-minute halves. The winning team receives 3 points, 1 for the draw and 0 for a lost game. The last three teams in the tournament are relegated to the second division, the Serie B. Millions of supporters are passionate about the Serie A. The city derbies are particularly important, like Roma-Lazio, together with the matches that arouse historical rivalries, like Juventus-Fiorentina. The Summer transfer market, between July and August, and the Winter one in January allow the teams to strengthen their group by purchasing new players. Winning the championship and qualifying for other leagues means not only to stand out sportively, but also to earn money: the TV rights – about 50 million euros – are shared among the 20 participating teams depending on their placing in the championship. Due to its high technical and physical level, the Italian league is a dream for many players. Great international players have played in Italy’s Serie A, such as Maradona and Van Basten. Each year, their example encourages thousands of children to join football schools and the youth sectors of the teams are some of the best in the world.