Qatar Stars League

Qatar Stars League
Country Qatar Qatar
Confederation AFC
Founded 1963 (1963)
Number of teams 14
Level on pyramid 1
Relegation to Qatargas League
Domestic cup(s) Emir Cup
Crown Prince Cup
Sheikh Jassem Cup
International cup(s) AFC Champions League
GCC Champions League
Current champions Al-Rayan SC (8th title)
Most championships Al-Sadd SC (13 titles)
TV partners Al Jazeera Sports, Al-Kass
2016–17 Qatar Stars League

The Qatar Stars League (Arabic: دوري نجوم قطر), formerly known as the Q-League (Arabic: س الدوري), is the highest professional league in Qatari football, with the next tier being the Qatargas League. The league's first season was played in 1963, although the first official season occurred in 1972. The league's most recent winner was Lekhwiya SC, and the club who has won the most cumulative championships is Al Sadd SC, with 12. The league currently features 14 clubs, with one club being demoted to make room for one club being promoted.

The Qatari league system provides 4 domestic cups that these clubs are able to participate in: the Emir of Qatar Cup, open to all teams in both the first and second divisions, the Qatar Crown Prince Cup a postseason tournament played by the top four first division teams, the Sheikh Jassem Cup, a prelude to the first division regular season, and the Qatari Stars Cup, a round-robin tournament played midseason. The league title has been won by 8 different clubs since its inception.

League structure

There are 2 divisions in the Qatari football structure and the league has previously seen one club promoted and relegated each year except in expansion seasons. The Qatar Stars League, previously known as the Q-League currently features 14 teams, with the 2nd division featuring 18 teams. The top four clubs at the end of the regular league system participate in the Qatar Crown Prince Cup, which was formed in the 1994/95 season.[1]

The Qatar Stars League has slowly expanded since the turn of the decade moving from 9 clubs to 10 clubs, and then latest setup of 12 clubs for the Qatari League 2009-10 campaign. It was announced that in the 2013-14 season, the number of clubs in the top division would increase to 14, whereas the second division would increase to 18 clubs which includes the reserve teams of the top division clubs.[2]

There are currently 4 official amateur football leagues in Qatar. Three amateur leagues are under the jurisdiction of the Qatar International Amateur Football League (QIAFL), and the fourth, known as the Qatar Amateur League (QAL) is recognized by the QFA. Inaugurated in November 2013,[3] the QAL has 14 teams, all of which were established through the country's government, political and social sectors.[4]

It was announced on 15 April 2009 that no clubs would be relegated from the top flight in the Qatari League 2008-09 season, due to expansion reasons, however the announcement was made with only one game remaining.[5] That year, the top league expanded to 12 clubs. In May 2013, the QFA again expanded the league by two more teams, bringing the total number of clubs in the first division to 14.[6]


The first unofficial season of the Qatar Stars League was the 1963/64 season, 3 years after the formation of the QFA. Similarly, a second division was also created during this time. For many years, there was no promotion or relegation system.[7]

In 1972/73, the first official season was played.[8] Al Estaqlal, now known as Qatar SC, won the first championship.

The first time there was a playoff for the championship was in 1980, between Al Sadd and Al Arabi. Al Sadd won the match 1–0.[7]

Although a second division had been in place for some time, there was no relegation or promotion system. However, in 1981, such a system was put in place for the first time. Five clubs participated in the second division that year.[7]

In 1984/85, there was no relegation or promotion due to the participation of a majority of the Qatari players within the national team, who were then preparing for the qualification rounds of the 1986 FIFA World Cup.[7]

In 1994, for one season, the QFA launched a new system where matches ending in draws would end in a penalty shoot-out to determine the winner. This was put in place in an effort to improve attendance.[7]

Three second division clubs were dissolved in the 1990 season: Al Nasr, Al Tadamon, and Al Nahda. Many of their players were distributed to first division clubs and became prominent players in Qatari football history, such as Fahad Al Kuwari, Ahmed Al Kuwari and Hamad Al Khalifa. After the dissolution of these clubs, there was no longer any relegation or promotion for five years. In 1995/96, the second division was brought back with five clubs, while there ten clubs participating in the first division.[7]

Another method the QFA attempted to develop the league was allocating each Q-League club with a sum of $10,000,000 to buy big-name foreign players in order to increase popularity in 2003. It succeeded, and players such as Ronald and Frank de Boer, Pep Guardiola, and Gabriel Batistuta soon appeared in the league.[9]

In addition, in 2004, the Aspire Academy was formed, which provides world-class training facilities to young people in order to not only improve the footballing standard in Qatar, but internationally. Many notable players have graduated from the academy, including Abdelkarim Hassan, Saad Al Sheeb, and Ibrahim Majid.[10]

In 2009, no clubs were relegated from the top division. Due to the recent formation of Lekhwiya and El Jaish, this meant that the second division would lose two clubs while two more clubs would enter the first division, bringing the total number of clubs in the first division to 12, and the second division to 6.[5] As part of the expansion campaign, the "Q-League" changed its name to what it is currently known as, "Qatar Stars League",[11] and inaugurated a new domestic cup, the "Qatari Stars Cup".[12]

Qatar Stars League member clubs

Table as of 2015–16 Season:

Qatar Stars League
Club Location Stadium Year Formed
Al Ahli Doha Doha Khalifa International Stadium 1950
Al-Arabi Doha Doha Grand Hamad Stadium 1952
Al-Gharafa Al-Gharafa, Al Rayyan Thani bin Jassim Stadium 1979
Al Kharaitiyat Al Kharaitiyat, Umm Salal Al-Khawr Stadium 1996
Al-Khor Al Khor City, Al Khor Al-Khawr Stadium 1961
Al Rayyan Al Rayyan Ahmed bin Ali Stadium 1967
Al Sadd Al Sadd, Doha Jassim Bin Hamad Stadium 1969
Al Sailiya Doha Ahmed bin Ali Stadium 1995
Al-Wakrah Al Wakrah Al-Wakrah Stadium 1959
El Jaish (Army Club) Duhail, Doha Suhaim bin Hamad Stadium 2007
Lekhwiya Doha Al-Gharafa Stadium 2009
Mesaimeer Mesaimeer, Al Rayyan Al-Sailiya Stadium 1998
Qatar SC Al Dafna, Doha Suhaim bin Hamad Stadium 1959
Umm Salal Umm Salal Grand Hamad Stadium 1996

Championship history

The champions are:[13]

Most successful clubs

Al Sadd are the most successful team in the league
1Al-Sadd SC13
2Qatar SC (Al-Esteqlal)8
3Al-Rayyan SC8
4Al-Gharafa SC (Al-Ittihad)7
5Al-Arabi SC7
6Lekhwiya SC4
8Al-Wakrah SC2

Total titles won by town or city

Town or city Number of titles Clubs
Al-Sadd SC (13), Qatar SC (8), Al-Arabi SC (7), Lekhwiya SC (4), Al Maref (3)
Al Rayyan
Al-Rayyan SC (8), Al-Gharafa SC (7)
Al Wakrah
Al-Wakrah SC (2)

Total titles won by region

Region Number of titles Clubs
Al-Sadd SC (13), Qatar SC (8), Al-Arabi SC (7), Lekhwiya SC (4), Al Maref (3)
Al Rayyan
Al-Rayyan SC (8), Al-Gharafa SC (7)
Al Wakrah
Al-Wakrah SC (2)
Al Khor
Madinat ash Shamal
Umm Salal

Post-season awards

An award system was developed in 2006 in which the best player and coach of the footballing season are selected by a panel of journalists. Each award winner receives $100,000.[22][23] There are also awards for youth players and club staff.

Player of the Year Club Manager of the Year Club
Qatar Sebastián Soria
Al Gharafa
Uruguay Jorge Fossati
Al Sadd
Qatar Emerson Sheik
Al Sadd
Uruguay Jorge Fossati
Al Sadd
Morocco Aziz Ben Askar
Umm Salal
Brazil Marcos Paquetá
Al Gharafa
Argentina Leonardo Pisculichi
Al Arabi
Brazil Sebastião Lazaroni
Qatar SC
Brazil Juninho
Al Gharafa
Brazil Caio Júnior
Al Gharafa
Ivory Coast Bakari Koné
Qatar Abdullah Mubarak
Al Ahli
Brazil Rodrigo Tabata
Al Rayyan
Uruguay Diego Aguirre
Al Rayyan
Qatar Khalfan Ibrahim
Al Sadd
Morocco Hussein Amotta
Al Sadd

Top goalscorers


Year Best scorers Team Goals
1972/73 Qatar Awodh Hassan Al-Esteqlal 10
1973/74 unknown
1974/75 Not held
1975/76 Qatar Lebanon Jamal Al Khatib Al-Esteqlal 8
1976/77 unknown
1977/78 unknown
1978/79 Qatar Hassan Mattar Al-Sadd SC 11
1979/80 Qatar
Hamdan Hamed
Badr Bilal
Sharif Abdul-Hamed
Al Ahli SC
Al-Sadd SC
Qatar SC
1980/81 Qatar Hassan Mattar Al-Sadd SC 9
1981/82 Qatar Mansoor Muftah Al-Rayyan SC 19
1982/83 Qatar Mansoor Muftah Al-Rayyan SC 10
1983/84 Qatar Mansoor Muftah Al-Rayyan SC 7
1984/85 Qatar Ahmed Yaqoub Al-Arabi SC 7
1985/86 Qatar Mansoor Muftah Al-Rayyan SC 20
1986/87 Qatar Hassan Sabela Al Ahli SC 9
1987/88 Qatar Hassan Jowhar Al-Sadd SC 11
1988/89 Iran Farshad Pious Al Ahli SC 9
1989/90 Brazil Marco Antônio Al-Arabi SC 10
1990/91 Qatar Mahmoud Soufi Al-Ittihad 10
1991/92 Qatar Mubarak Mustafa Al Arabi SC 8
1992/93 Qatar Mubarak Mustafa Al Arabi SC 9
1993/94 Iraq Ahmed Radhi Al-Wakrah SC 16
1994/95 Qatar Mohammed Salem Al-Enazi Al-Rayyan SC 9
1995/96 Nigeria Ricky Owubokiri Al-Arabi SC 16
1996/97 Qatar Mubarak Mustafa Al-Arabi SC 11
1997/98 Morocco Hussein Amotta Al-Sadd SC 10
1998/99 Angola Fabrice Akwa Al-Wakrah SC 11
1999/2000 Qatar Mohammed Salem Al-Enazi Al-Rayyan SC 14
2000/01 Senegal Mamoun Diop Al-Wakrah SC 14
2001/02 Algeria Rachid Amrane Al-Ittihad 16
2002/03 Morocco Rachid Rokki Al-Khor SC 15
2003/04 Argentina Gabriel Batistuta Al-Arabi SC 25
2004/05 Brazil Sonny Anderson Al-Rayyan SC 20
2005/06 Ecuador Carlos Tenorio Al-Sadd SC 21
2006/07 Iraq Younis Mahmoud Al-Gharafa SC 24
2007/08 Brazil Clemerson de Araújo Al-Gharafa SC 27
2008/09 Brazil Magno Alves Umm Salal SC 25
2009/10 Brazil
Younis Mahmoud
Al-Arabi SC
Al-Gharafa SC
2010/11 Iraq Younis Mahmoud Al-Gharafa SC 15
2011/12 Brazil Adriano El Jaish SC 18
2012/13 Qatar Sebastián Soria Lekhwiya SC 19
2013/14 Democratic Republic of the Congo Dioko Kaluyituka Al Ahli SC 22
2014/15 Democratic Republic of the Congo Dioko Kaluyituka Al Ahli SC 25
2015/16 Qatar Rodrigo Tabata Al-Rayyan 21


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