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The Primera División, commonly known as La Liga and as La Liga Santander for sponsorship reasons with Santander, is the top professional association soccer division of the Spanish soccer league system. Managed by the Liga de Fútbol Profesional (LFP), La Liga is contested by 20 teams, with the three lowest-placed teams relegated to the Segunda División and replaced by the top two teams in that division plus the winner of a play-off.
A total of 62 teams have competed in La Liga since its inception. Nine teams have been crowned champions, with Real Madrid winning the title a record 33 times and Barcelona 24 times. After Athletic Bilbao claimed several titles in the league’s early years, Real Madrid dominated the championship from the 1950s through to the 1980s, when Athletic and neighbours Real Sociedad each won the league twice. From the 1990s onwards, Barcelona (14 titles) and Real Madrid (9 titles) were both prominent, though La Liga also saw other champions, including Atlético Madrid, Valencia, and Deportivo de La Coruña. In the 2010s, Atlético Madrid became increasingly strong, forming a trio alongside Real Madrid and Barcelona which occupied the podium places exclusively.
According to UEFA’s league coefficient, La Liga has been the top league in Europe over the last five years and has led Europe for more years than any other country. It has also produced the continent’s top-rated club more times than any other league, more than double that of second-placed Serie A. Its clubs have won the most UEFA Champions League (17), UEFA Europa League (10), UEFA Super Cup (14), and FIFA Club World Cup (6) titles, and its players have accumulated the highest number of (FIFA) Ballon d’Or awards (19).
La Liga is one of the most popular professional sports leagues in the world, with an average attendance of 26,741 for league matches in the 2014–15 season. This is the sixth-highest of any domestic professional sports league in the world and the fourth-highest of any professional association soccer league in the world, behind the Bundesliga, the Premier League, and the Indian Super League.