Football (American soccer) in France did not take hold until the turn of the 20th century. French football did not really start to gain popularity until 1897.
National Team and the French Football Federation
The French National Football team was created in 1904. The French played their first international match against Belgium later that same year. The result was a 3-3 draw. The success of this early French team at the international level led to the creation of the French Football Federation in 1919. In 1920, the French Football Federation took over the running of the French Cup. The FFF is the governing body of all French football. They select the players for the French National team as well.
The French Cup
The French Cup was founded in 1917. Charles Simon Challenge created it, and 48 teams participated in the first French Cup. Olympic Pantin was crowned the first champion.
Early World Cup
France participated in the first World Cup played in Uruguay in 1930. Lucien Laurent scored the first World Cup goal for the French against Mexico on July 13th, 1930 in the 19th minute of the first half. France defeated Mexico 4-1.
The French National team went on to lose their next two matches against Argentina and Chile. In 1938, France hosted their first World Cup. The national team made it all the way to the quarterfinals.
Later World Cup
The French National Team finished third in the 1958 World Cup. This French team lost to Pele and Brazil in the semifinals. Brazil went on to win the World Cup.
French player Just Fontaine set a World Cup record for most goals scored in a World Tournament. He scored 13 goals in six games in the 1958 World Cup. This record still stands tin 2009.
After the third place finish in the 1958 World Cup, the French National team didn't perform very well on the world stage until they won the 1998 World Cup, held in France.
The French became one of the first European countries to form a professional football league. In 1932, the FFF created Ligue One. The first champion was Olympique Lillois in 1932.
Three teams dominated French Ligue One from 1955 to 1983. They were Stade de Reims (six titles), FC Nantes (six titles) and AS Saint Etienne (ten titles).
One of the most successful football clubs in French football history was founded in Olympique de Marseille in 1897. Marseille went on to win eight Ligue One Titles and ten French Cup titles. They are the only French team to win The Champions League title, in 1993. Marseille dominated French Ligue One in the 1980s and 1990s, when they won consecutive titles from 1988 through 1992.
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