The Evolution of Soccer in Taiwan: From Pioneers to the Taiwan Football Premier League

In the rich tapestry of Taiwan’s sporting history, football has emerged as a dynamic and evolving thread, woven with passion, dedication, and the pioneering spirit of individuals like Edward Band. From its humble beginnings in the early 20th century to the present-day Taiwan Football Premier League (TFPL), the journey of football in Taiwan is a captivating tale of growth and resilience.

Pioneers of the Sport

The history of football in Taiwan can be traced back to the early 20th century, thanks to the efforts of Edward Band, an English missionary and principal of Chang Jung Senior High School (formerly known as the Presbyterian Church High School). Edward Band, also known as Wan Jung-hua, introduced the sport to the students, forming Chang Jung’s soccer club around 1916. Under his guidance, the club flourished, marking the beginning of organized football in Taiwan.

The 1920s witnessed the spread of the game, with matches played among local teams, including Chang Jung, Tainan First Senior High School, and the then-Tainan Normal School. Edward Band’s influence and dedication ignited a passion for football, leading to the establishment of the South Football League in 1929, with teams competing for the prestigious Barclay Cup. This period laid the foundation for the sport’s growth in Taiwan.

The National Team’s Historic Journey

The Chinese Taipei national football team, representing Taiwan, has had a storied history despite not qualifying for the FIFA World Cup. Founded in 1924 as the China Football Association, it moved to Taiwan in 1949 at the end of the Chinese Civil War. The team, initially known as Taiwan, achieved significant success in the 1950s, winning gold at the 1954 and 1958 Asian Games.

The pinnacle of Chinese Taipei’s success came in the 1960 AFC Asian Cup, where they reached the semi-finals, finishing third. The team also qualified for the 1960 Summer Olympics, showcasing their prowess on the international stage. However, the composition of the team at that time included players from British Hong Kong.

Following an agreement in 1970, Hong Kong footballers were no longer eligible to play for Chinese Taipei, marking a shift in the team’s fortunes. The team struggled to qualify for major tournaments, and due to political conflicts, Taiwan (Republic of China) temporarily joined the Oceania Football Confederation from 1975 to 1989.

After a hiatus, Chinese Taipei rejoined the Asian Football Federation in 1989 and the Olympic Council of Asia in 1990, marking their return to the Asian football community.

Rise of the Taiwan Football Premier League

In 2017, Taiwan’s football landscape underwent a significant transformation with the establishment of the Taiwan Football Premier League (TFPL). The TFPL, organized by the Chinese Taipei Football Association (CTFA), emerged as the country’s top-flight professional football league. This marked a shift from the previous Intercity Football League, signaling a commitment to improving the standard of football in Taiwan.

The TFPL features eight professional teams competing in a round-robin format, playing 21 games from April to November. The league aims to provide a platform for local talent to showcase their skills and compete at the highest level. The champion earns an automatic berth in the following year’s AFC Cup, further elevating the stakes in Taiwanese football.

The league has quickly gained popularity and loyalty among fans, with matches held at various venues across the country, including Fu Jen Catholic University Stadium, Kaohsiung National Stadium, and Taipei Municipal Stadium.

Teams and Players in the TFPL

The TFPL boasts eight competitive teams, each with its unique history and achievements. Teams like Hang Yuen FC, Hualien City FC, and Taiwan Steel Group FC have become prominent names in the league, contributing to the growth of football in Taiwan.

Player diversity in the TFPL is a key feature, with both local talents and international stars showcasing their skills. From Hang Yuen FC’s success to Hualien City FC’s rapid rise, each team adds a layer of excitement and competition to the league.


Taiwanese football has come a long way since Edward Band introduced the sport in the early 20th century. From the early days of local leagues to the establishment of the Taiwan Football Premier League, the journey reflects the nation’s commitment to the beautiful game. The TFPL has become a crucial component in fostering talent and promoting football at a professional level, raising the profile of Taiwanese football on the international stage. As Taiwan continues its systematic reforms to elevate football to a professional level, the future looks bright for the sport in this vibrant Asian nation.

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