International Soccer League

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International Soccer League
Organizing bodyAmerican Soccer League
Abolished1965; 59 years ago (1965)
RegionNew York City, U.S.
Number of teams9 (1965)
Last champion(s)Poland Polonia Bytom

The International Soccer League was a U.S.-based soccer league which was formed in 1960 and collapsed in 1965. The League, affiliated with the American Soccer League, featured guest teams primarily from Europe and some from South America, Canada and Mexico.

The creation of the League was announced in January 1960, when it was regarded as an attempt to create a Club World Cup. However, the concurrence of the UEFA/CONMEBOL-endorsed Intercontinental Cup, launched also in 1960, nullified any possibility that the League might have relevance as a club world championship.[1]


In 1960, William D. Cox, a wealthy U.S. businessman and former owner of the Philadelphia Phillies, a U.S. baseball team, saw a potential market in the United States for top-level soccer. Recognizing that U.S. teams did not play at a sufficiently high level to attract the attention of most fans, he began to consider the possibility of importing European and South American teams during their league off-seasons. Traditionally, tours by European clubs in the northeast United States had drawn well and Cox decided to pursue this approach.

However, soccer in the U.S. was run by the U.S. Soccer Football Association (USSFA). As a member of the soccer's international governing organization, FIFA, the USSFA had the sole power in the U.S. to authorize the creation of a new league, and any league created without USSFA authority would be declared an "outlaw league". Any person playing in an "outlaw league" would then be banned from playing in any other league or team affiliated with FIFA, and as nearly every league and team in the world was affiliated with the world soccer body, this would effectively ban a player from playing soccer anywhere.

To get USSFA approval, Cox worked through the existing American Soccer League, a USSFA-recognized league. This went so far that in 1961, the ASL scheduled only one game during the ISL season in order to keep from drawing fan support from the league.[2] Each year, the ISL played two halves to its season, with different sets of teams; the top team from each half played each other in a season-ending championship game. In order to give the American fans a greater stake in the league, Cox also decided to enter a team of U.S.-based players; this team, called variably New York, the New Yorkers and the New York Americans, was usually a mix of U.S.-based European professionals with some native all-stars. Cox also gained regional television coverage, and the associated revenue stream. While the games were initially played in the New York metropolitan area, as interest in the ISL increased, he expanded the league to Chicago, Detroit, Boston and Los Angeles.

The ISL lasted only through the end of the 1965 season before folding, not so much by its continuing financial losses (some $100,000 over five seasons), but due to the continuing hostility of the USSFA. The ISL's growing success, combined with Cox’ refusal to allow USSFA a part in the league management, led to the USSFA's fear losing control of soccer in the United States. In 1965 the organization forbade Cox from importing teams into the U.S. and threatened to declare the ISL an outlaw league. Cox was forced to fold the ISL, but sued USSFA in federal court for anti-trust violations, a suit he eventually won.[3] While the ISL played its last season in 1965, the model was used again in 1967 when the United Soccer Association (USA) imported foreign teams to populate its league and again in 1969 when the North American Soccer League (NASL) used imported teams for the first half of its season.

In 1967, Cox joined with several other investors to found the National Professional Soccer League, a non-USSFA sanctioned league which, the following year, merged with the US to become the NASL.[4]

List of champions[edit]

Teams were divided into two groups (Section I and Section II) where they played a single round-robin tournament. Teams placed first in each group, played a final match to decide a champion.[5]

Note: all the finals were held in New York City

Ed. Year Champion 1st.
Agg. Runner-up Venue
1960 Brazil Bangu
Scotland Kilmarnock Polo Grounds
1961 Czechoslovakia Dukla Prague
England Everton Polo Grounds
1962 Brazil America (RJ)
Portugal Belenenses Polo Grounds
1963 England West Ham United
Poland Górnik Zabrze Polo Grounds
1964 Poland Zagłębie Sosnowiec
West Germany Werder Bremen Downing Stadium
1965 Poland Polonia Bytom
United States New York Americans Randall's Island Stadium

American Challenge Cup[edit]

In 1962, the ISL initiated an annual challenge cup. It would pair the winner of the previous year's Challenge Cup winner with the current season's league champion. Dukla Prague had won the 1961 title, defeating Everton F.C. 7–2 and 2–0 in the championship. Therefore, they were paired in the first Challenge Cup with the 1962 season winner, América RJ. Dukla won and returned for the next three challenge cups, winning each, except for the last in which they fell to Polonia Bytom.

List of champions[edit]

(Left) trophy of the American Challenge Cup; (right): plaque with the list of champions
Ed. Year Champion 1st.
Agg. Runner-up
1960 Brazil Bangu
[n 1]
1961 Czechoslovakia Dukla Prague
[n 1]
1962 Czechoslovakia Dukla Prague
Brazil America (RJ)
1963 Czechoslovakia Dukla Prague
England West Ham United
1964 Czechoslovakia Dukla Prague
Poland Zagłębie Sosnowiec
1965 Poland Polonia Bytom
Czechoslovakia Dukla Prague
  1. ^ a b No match held. Trophy directly awarded to champion of International Soccer League.

League MVP[edit]

Beginning in 1961, the league champion was awarded the Dwight D. Eisenhower trophy, but from 1962 to 1965 it was given to the league MVP. However, in 1960 and 1961 the best players in the tournament were Ademir da Guia (Bangu)[6] and Válter Santos (Bangu)[7] respectively.

Year Player Team
1960 Brazil Ademir da Guia Brazil Bangu
1961 Brazil Válter Santos Brazil Bangu
1962 West Germany Carl Bogelein West Germany Reutlingen
1963 England Bobby Moore England West Ham United
1964 West Germany Gerhard Zebrowski West Germany Werder Bremen
1965 Germany Uwe Schwart United States New York Americans

Teams participations[edit]

Winning years are indicated in bold

Team Year/s contested
Greece AEK Athens 1964
Brazil América RJ 1962
Brazil EC Bahia 1964
Brazil Bangu 1960, 1961
West Germany Bayern Munich 1960
Portugal Belenenses 1962, 1963
Turkey Beşiktaş 1961
England Blackburn Rovers 1964
England Burnley 1960
Mexico Club Deportivo Oro 1963
Romania Dinamo Bucharest 1961
Socialist Federal Republic of Yugoslavia Dinamo Zagreb 1963
Czechoslovakia Dukla Prague 1961, 1962, 1963, 1964, 1965
Scotland Dundee 1962
Sweden Elfsborg 1962
Spain Espanyol 19612
England Everton 1961
Hungary Ferencváros 1965
Northern Ireland Glenavon 1960
Poland Górnik Zabrze 1963
Mexico Guadalajara 1962
Socialist Federal Republic of Yugoslavia Hajduk Split 1962
Israel Hapoel Petah Tikva 1961
Sweden Helsingborgs IF 1963
Scotland Heart of Midlothian 1964
West Germany Karlsruhe 1961
Scotland Kilmarnock 1960, 1961, 1963, 1965
Italy Lanerossi-Vicenza 1964
Italy Mantua 1963
France Monaco 1961
Canada Montreal Concordia 1961
Hungary MTK Budapest 1962
United States New York Americans 1960, 1961, 1965
France Nice 1960
Sweden Norrköping 1960
Italy Palermo 1962
Greece Panathinaikos 1962
Poland Polonia Bytom 1965
Brazil Portuguesa 1965
West Germany Preussen Munster 1963
Austria Rapid Wien 1960, 1961
Spain Real Oviedo 1962
Spain Real Valladolid 1963
Brazil Sport Recife 1963
West Germany Reutlingen 1962
Socialist Federal Republic of Yugoslavia Red Star Belgrade 1960, 1961, 1964
Italy Sampdoria 1960
Austria Schwechat 1964
Republic of Ireland Shamrock Rovers 1961
Portugal Sporting Lisbon 1960
West Germany TSV 1860 Munich 1965
Hungary Újpest 1963
France Valenciennes 1963
Italy Varese 1965
Portugal Vitória de Guimarães 1964
Austria Wiener AC 1962, 1963
West Germany Werder Bremen 1964
England West Bromwich Albion 1965
England West Ham United 1963, 1965
Poland Zagłębie Sosnowiec 1964


  1. ^ "Torneio mundial de futebol nos Estados Unidos" on Estado de São Paulo Brazilian newspaper. January, 15, 1960, page 18.
  2. ^ The Year in American Soccer - 1961: The American Soccer League on (archived, 9 Oct 1999)
  3. ^ The Year in American Soccer - 1965 on
  4. ^ The Year in American Soccer - 1966 on
  5. ^ USA - International Soccer League II by David A. Litterer at the RSSSF
  6. ^ Ademir sonha estrear Arena Palestra ao lado de ex-colegas do Palmeiras on, 4 Apr 2012
  7. ^ Bangu campaign in 1961 on

External links[edit]