Italian Championships 1898-1915

Italian championships in various formats were contested for 30 years before the introduction of Serie A. This post covers the period from the first championship of 1898 up until Italy entered the First World War.

1898 Genoa CFC
The first Italian championships were decided on May 8th 1898 , in the course of one day. 

1899 Genoa CFC
Four Turin teams played off for the right to face Genoa. A repeat of the previous year's final saw Genoa beating Internazionale Torino.

1900 Genoa CFC
The competition now widened, with 6 teams including Milan and Juventus appearing. Genoa beat Foot-Ball Club Torinese (who had recently merged with Internazionale Torino) in the final.

1901 Milan
A Milanese (Milan v Mediolanum) and Turinese (Juventus v Ginnastica) qualification round set up a Milan Juventus semi final. Milan went on to beat defending champions Genoa 3-0 in the final to win their first national title.

1902 Genoa CFC
Seven teams entered in 1902 and Genoa avenged the previous year's defeat beating Milan 2-0 in the final.

1903 Genoa CFC
Milan and Genoa's neighbours Andrea Doria joined Juventus and 2 other Turin clubs in playoffs to meet Genoa in the final. Juventus won through but were overcome 3-0 by Genoa.

1904 Genoa CFC
A 4 team competition for the right to challenge Genoa saw Juventus again progressing only to lose 1-0 in the final.

1905 Juventus
Three two- legged regional matches won by U.S. Milanese, Juventus and Genoa who then played each other twice in a final league that Juventus won to claim their first title.

1906 Milan
Incident and controversy  Milan, Juventus and Genoa met in the final league. When Juventus played Genoa at home a riot erupted after Genoa supporters invaded the pitch. The match was abandoned with Juventus 1-0 up, and a replay at a neutral ground was ordered.  Juventus won the replay at Milan.  Genoa then withdrew from the competition, forfeiting their game against Milan.
Milan and Juventus met in the final in Turin. The match was drawn 0-0 but Juventus refused to replay the match in Milan, and Milan were awarded the championship.

1907 Milan
The same format, with two legged matches being played to decide the representatives from Piedmont, Liguria and Lombardy, but a change in the Italian footballing order was beginning to show. Torino usurped Juventus and Andrea Doria got the better of Genoa.
Milan won the final group.

1908 Pro Vercelli 
Complications. The FIF ( the Italian FA) sanctioned 2 championships. The Campionato Federale, in which players of all nationalities could be used (up until now championship winning teams had featured many non Italian players) and the Campionato Italiano, in which only Italian players could compete.
Juventus won the Campionato Federale (Andrea Doria being the only other participants).
Pro Vercelli won the Campionato Italiano, beating Juventus in a qualifying round and topping a final league that also included Andrea Doria and U.S. Milanese.

1909 Pro Vercelli 
The dual system remained in place, and the outcome was the same- it is the Campionato Italiano that is recognized as being the true scudetto of this era, and Pro Vercelli emerged as champions. Venezia became the first club from outside the north west corner of the country to compete.

1909 -10 Internazionale 
A complete farce. The championship now took the form of a league. 9 teams competed. The FIF decreed that the honorific title of  Campionato Italiano would be awarded to the highest placed 'pure Italian team' in the league, but now the real championship, the scudetto, was the Campionato Federale.
At the end of the season Pro Vercelli and Internazionale of Milan finished level on points. (Nowadays Pro Vercelli would have won the league on goal difference). There was a playoff. Pro Vercelli were already comitted to play in a tournament on the day on which the play off was scheduled. The FIF were facing a deadline because preparations were being made for Italy's inaugural international in May, so they refused to re schedule the play off.
The records show that the play off went ahead and that Internazionale won 10-3, securing their first scudetto. Pro Vercelli actually used a reserve team for the play off as a mark of contempt. The team that lost to Inter was aged 11-15! 
Pro Vercelli, with an entirely Italian squad were named Campionato Italiano.

1910-11  Pro Vercelli
Back to two regional leagues-

Piedmont-Lombardy-Liguria- which was won by Pro Vercelli, and Veneto-Emilia Romagna, a four team league won by Vicenza . Pro Vercelli won the two legged final 3-0 and 2-1. 

1911-12  Pro Vercelli

Piedmont-Lombardy-Liguria (10 teams) won by Pro Vercelli, and Veneto-Emilia Romagna, a four team league won by Venezia. The final was a two legged affair. Pro Vercelli won 6-0 in Venice and 7-0 at home.

1912-13 Pro Vercelli
A complex schedule- 3 regional leagues in both northern and southern Italy producing northern (6 teams) and southern (3 teams) final rounds. The  outcome was a single game Pro Vercelli v Lazio final that pro  Vercelli won 6-0.

During the 3 victorious seasons above Pro Vercelli lost only twice . In 1911 they won 75% of their matches, in 1912, 83% and in 1913, 90%.

1913-14 Casale
A change of fortune as Pro Vercelli didn't make it out of the Piedmont-Liguria league. 
Three northern and southern leagues producing northern (6 teams) and southern (3 teams) final rounds.Casale met Lazio in the two legged  final, winning 7-1 and 2-0.

1914-15 Genoa CFC
 Italy entered World War I on May 24th, 1915 with the championship unfinished. Genoa topped The northern regional final league after 5 rounds of matches, and after the war they were retrospectively declared champions.