The Lao Football Federation is the official governing body for football in Laos. The federation administers the affairs of the national football team and the Lao Premier League. The association has been a member of FIFA since 1952. It became a member of the Asian Football Confederation in 1958 and joined the Asian Football Federation in 1996.
The president of the Lao Football Federation is Viphet Sihachakr, who is currently serving his third term in this capacity after being re-elected in 2020.
Continue reading this article as we walk through the history of the Lao Football Federation and its current status.
Lao Football Federation History
While Sepak Takraw is the national sport of Laos, football remains the game of choice for the country’s majority. A year after Laos became an independent country, it formed its Football Federation in 1951. In the earlier era, Laos was home to many French expatriates who may have contributed to introducing the sport among the locals.
The federation became a member of FIFA in 1952 and became affiliated with the AFC and the AFF in 1958 and 1996, respectively. As the country continued to struggle with political unrest and economic uncertainty, it took a toll on other aspects, and sports like football were no exception. The national team has not been able to qualify for any major world or regional events. Let’s have a look at the status of the national team and football leagues in Laos.
Laos National Football Team
While the national team has not been able to qualify for the FIFA World Cup and major regional tournaments like the Asian Games and the Asian Cup, it has been participating in regional events, including the AFF Suzuki Cup and the Southeast Asian Games.
As suggested earlier, the initial years were the country’s independence in a struggle for political and economic stability; things improved in time, encouraging the locals to take an interest in various sports. Football being the game of choice, has piqued the majority’s interest.
The national team appeared in the Southeast Asian Games for the first time in 1995. Although the team was new to international football, it played well and beat Brunei and the Philippines. Since then, it has been competing in the Tiger Cup, now known as the ASEAN Football Championship. In 1997, the team participated in the Southeast Asian Games in Jakarta and beat Malaysia.
The team continued to participate in the Asian Cup and World Cup qualifying rounds throughout the early 2000s. The team managed to make it to the second round of qualifiers for the World Cup in 2006 and 2014. While it has been unable to make major headlines in world football, the national team has beaten various superior teams over the years, including Singapore, Malaysia, Philippines, Cambodia and Malaysia. In 2014 the team made it to the Challenge Cup, which was its first appearance in a continental competition.
The football federation and the national team came under scrutiny in 2017 over suspicions of match-fixing. One of the clubs, Lao Toyota F.C., was also investigated. Many officials of the Laos Football Federation and players from the teams were banned, which many prominent footballers.
Domestic Football in Laos
The football federation also oversees the domestic football competitions in the country. Currently, Laos has around 60 football clubs competing at different levels. Most domestic football teams are under public service departments or government ministries.
The Laos Football Federation is responsible for organising various domestic competitions.
Lao Premier League
The Lao Premier League, or the Lao League 1, is the top football league in the country. It was established in 1990 and currently has seven teams. The Lao League 1 follows a demotion and promotion system with the second-tier league, the Lao League 2.
Lao League 2
The Lao League 2 is the second-tier football league in Laos. The league was established in 2020. In 2021 Lao Army F.C. won the contest. In the current year, the league has not held any contests.
Lao FF Cup
The Lao Football Federation organises the Lao FF Cup, which is the premier football competition in the country. The winning team participates in the AFC Cup and ASEAN Club Championship. The current champions of the Lao League 1 are the Young Elephants, who won their first title this year. The most successful team in the F.F. Cup has been the Lao Army F.C., which has won the contest eight times.