The festive season is a busy time of year for football fans, while December 25 is quiet – but football is still played in some countries
For many fans, festive football is as much a part of their Christmas tradition as exchanging gifts and having a Christmas tree.
While some leagues such as the Bundesliga break over the winter, in England, the festive period is packed with fixtures – never more so than on Boxing Day, December 26.
Football on Christmas Day used to be a staple of the season, starting – as with many Christmas traditions – during the Victorian Era.
Now, all of the major leagues around Europe are quiet on December 25. But is football played anywhere in the world? Goal takes a look.
Is there football on Christmas Day?
No league football is played in Europe or North America on Christmas day.
However, a number of leagues continue with matches on December 25, generally in countries where Christmas is not widely celebrated.
A smattering of international games have taken place on December 25 in recent years, but none were scheduled for 2019.
There are league fixtures scheduled for December 25, 2019 in Egypt, Saudi Arabia, India, Hong Kong, Israel and Bolivia among other countries.
The leagues involved were similar in 2018, while there were also two international friendlies. Vietnam draw 1-1 at home to North Korea, and Qatar beat Kyrgyzstan 1-0.
There have also been Turkish Super Lig fixtures on December 25 in recent years, with Galatasaray thrashing Alanyaspor 5-1 in the most recent such set of fixtures in 2016.
While predominantly non-Christian countries such as most of those above would have no reason to stop the football calendar for Christmas Day, the heavily Roman Catholic Bolivia stands as an outlier.
In this case, it is a response to a heavily delayed football calendar.
Political protests and marches have disrupted Bolivian football to the point that the league season which had been scheduled to finish on December 11 will last until early January, with the penultimate round of fixtures currently pencilled in for December 25.
When did football stop being played at Christmas in Britain?
Formerly an annual Football League tradition, the last fixtures to be played on December 25 in England were in 1959.
There were only two games on that day – Blackburn beat Blackpool 1-0 in the old first division and Coventry beat Wrexham 5-3 in the third, the latter fixture providing more in the way of merriment.
However, league football carried on in Scotland for a little longer.
The last time a full round of fixtures was scheduled on December 25 was in 1976, though many games were postponed due to the weather.
It was five years previous to that when a full round of Scottish top-flight fixtures was played on Christmas, with Celtic and Rangers both winning that day in 1971.
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