|Number of teams||10|
|Level on pyramid||1|
|Relegation to||Croatian Second League|
|Domestic cup(s)||Croatian Football Cup|
Croatian Super Cup
|International cup(s)||UEFA Champions League|
UEFA Europa League
UEFA Europa Conference League
|Current champions||Dinamo Zagreb (21st title) |
|Most championships||Dinamo Zagreb|
|Most appearances||Jakov Sura? (453)|
|Top goalscorer||Davor Vugrinec (146)|
|TV partners||T-Hrvatski Telekom |
The Croatian First Football League (Croatian: Prva hrvatska nogometna liga, pronounced [pr:?a: xa:tska: nô?ome:tna: l?:?a]), also known as Prva HNL or 1. HNL or, for sponsorship reasons, the Hrvatski Telekom Prva Liga, is the top Croatian professional football league competition, established in 1992. The winners and second placed enter the qualifying stages of the UEFA Champions League. Dinamo Zagreb are the most successful club with 21 titles overall. They are followed by Hajduk Split with six titles. Rijeka and NK Zagreb each have won one title.
Since 2003, the league has been named after its main sponsor, giving it the following names (Logos see below):
The league was formed in 1991, following the dissolution of the Yugoslav First League, and is operated by the Croatian Football Federation. Since its formation, the league went through many changes in its system and number of participating clubs. In the first three seasons two points were awarded for a win, from 1994-95 season this was changed to three points. Each season starts in late July or early August and ends in May, with a two-month hiatus between December and February. Currently, there are ten teams participating in the league.
The first season started in February 1992 and ended in June 1992. A total of twelve clubs contested the league and at the end of the season no teams were relegated as it was decided that the league would expand to 16 clubs for the following season. This was followed by another expansion to 18 teams in 1993-94 season, highest number of participating teams in Prva HNL history. The following season, number of teams was reduced again to 16. 1995-96 Prva HNL was the first season to feature separate A- and B- leagues, with a complicated two-stage format to the season. Twelve teams contested the A league, while the B league, formally the second level, consisted of ten teams. In March, the teams were split into three groups: Championship group (consisting of first five teams from A league and the first-placed team of the B league), A play-off group (remaining teams from A league and the second-placed team of the B league) and B play-off group (remaining teams from B league). The first two teams of the B play-off group were placed in the A league for the following season, which featured 16 teams in both A and B league. In the 1997-98 Prva HNL, the league consisted of 12 team and a new format was used. In March, teams were split into two groups of six, Championship and Relegation group, with 50% of their points taken to this phase of the competition. At the end of the season, the last team was directly relegated to the Druga HNL and the second-last team went in the relegation play-off, a two-legged tie against the second-placed team from the Druga HNL. This system was used for two seasons, followed by 1999-2000 Prva HNL where each club playing every other club three times for a total of 33 rounds. Next season featured a return of Championship and Relegation group system but without 50% points cutoff. This system was used until 2005-06 season, with a brief expansion to 16 teams in 2001-02 season. The 2006-07 season brought back a 33 rounds system previously used in 1999-2000 Prva HNL. In the 2009-10 season, the league was expanded to 16 teams. This lasted for three seasons, and in the 2012-13 Prva HNL season, the league was contested by 12 teams playing a total of 33 rounds. From the 2013-14 Prva HNL season, number of teams was reduced to ten.
The league's main sponsor is T-Hrvatski Telekom, owned by the German telecommunications firm Deutsche Telekom. At the end of the 2014-15 season, Croatian First Football League was ranked 17th in Europe. The champions of the 2015-16 Croatian First Football League will qualify for the second qualifying round of the UEFA Champions League, the runners-up will qualify for the second qualifying round of UEFA Europa League, while the third-placed team will qualify for the first qualifying round of UEFA Europa League. The winners of the 2015-16 Croatian Football Cup will qualify for the third qualifying round of UEFA Europa League.
The following ten clubs will contest the 2019-20 Croatian First Football League season, the 29th season since the league's establishment.
Half of the clubs currently competing in the Croatian top level also had spells in the Yugoslav First League before Croatian clubs abandoned it in 1991 - as of the 2019-20 season five out of nine Croatian clubs which had appeared in the Yugoslav top division at some point between 1945 and 1991 compete in the Croatian top level - the remaining four Cibalia, RNK Split, NK Zagreb and Tre?njevka competing in the lower levels.
As of 2019, four of the 12 founding members of the league have never been relegated: Dinamo Zagreb, Hajduk Split, Osijek and Rijeka.
|First season in
|Number of seasons
in top division
|Number of seasons
in 1. HNL
|First season of
current spell in
|Last top division title|
|Dinamo Zagreb ?||1st||1946-47||74||29||1946-47||24 nb1||2018-19|
|Hajduk Split ?||4th||1923||91||29||1923||15 nb2||2004-05|
|Inter Zapre?i? +||8th||1992||20||20||2015-16||0||N/A|
|Vara?din||2. HNL1st in||2019-20||1||1||2019-20||0||N/A|
+ - One of the 12 founding members of the league in the inaugural 1992 season.
? - Appeared in all 29 seasons up to and including the 2019-20 season.
nb1 - Dinamo Zagreb tally includes four Yugoslav and 20 Croatian league titles.
nb2 - Hajduk Split tally includes nine Yugoslav and six Croatian league titles.
The breakup of Yugoslavia saw top flight league split into several smaller ones. This meant separation of Croatian football association from the Football Association of Yugoslavia and launch of their own football league. Prva HNL saw its first edition in 1992. Hajduk Split and HA?K Gra?anski took part in European competitions on account of qualification secured at the end of the 1990-91 Yugoslav football season: HA?K Gra?anski were runners-up in the 1990-91 Yugoslav First League and qualified for 1991-92 UEFA Cup while Hajduk Split won the 1990-91 Yugoslav Cup and entered 1991-92 European Cup Winners' Cup. Due to war both clubs had to host their European matches abroad, in Austria.
Affected by the ongoing war in Croatia, the first Prva HNL season was held over the course of a single calendar year, from February to June 1992. Neither Hajduk Split (1992 Croatian champions) nor Inker Zapre?i? (1992 Croatian Cup winners) could enter European competitions the following 1992-93 season as the Croatian Football Federation, the league's governing body, wasn't yet recognized by UEFA and officially became its affiliate as late as June 1993.
Only five times in history have HNL teams entered the group stages of UEFA Champions League. In the 1994-95 season, Hajduk Split eliminated Legia Warsaw in the qualifying round and entered the group stage. They advanced to quarterfinals as group runners-up behind Benfica but were eliminated by eventual winners Ajax. In the 1998-99 season, Croatia Zagreb qualified over Celtic and finished in second place behind Olympiacos, but failed to advance as only first place teams and two best runners-up went through. The following season, Croatia also entered the group stage after eliminating MTK Budapest in the third qualifying round. Drawn in the group with Manchester United, Olympique Marseille and Sturm Graz, they finished last, winning only against Sturm and drawing away at Manchester and Marseille. In the 2011-12 season, Dinamo Zagreb advanced through three qualifying rounds and were drawn in the group with Real Madrid, Lyon and Ajax. They lost all six group stage matches, setting new records for worst goal difference (-19) and most goals conceded (22). The following season, Dinamo Zagreb also advanced to the group stages and was drawn in the group with Dynamo Kyiv, Paris Saint-Germain and Porto. They lost five group matches, drawing with Dynamo Kyiv in the last round.
In past, only one match in each round (derby match) was broadcast on television. In the 2008-09 season there were some changes. Croatian national TV Network (HRT) started the new TV show Volim Nogomet (I Love Football), made in association with league's main sponsor T-Com. In the show, five matches were broadcast combined on Sunday afternoons, while the derby match was on program at 20.15 CET, so viewers could watch all the matches. There were also experts in the studio, commenting on matches and other things non-related to football. Main initiator of the project was famous Croatian football player and then president of T-Com 1. HNL organisation Igor ?timac. Most of the clubs weren't satisfied with the scheduling of fixtures and demanded a move from Sunday afternoon to Saturday evening. This was done at the start of the following season and the only match played on Sunday was the derby match. However, during the mid-season project was cancelled and the old system with one broadcast per round was returned.
In November 2010, broadcasting rights were sold to marketing agency Digitel Komunikacije for a period of five years, beginning with 2011-12 season. After the negotiations fell through with public broadcasting television HRT, which covered Prva HNL for the past twenty seasons, Digitel signed a deal with T-Hrvatski Telekom. The matches are currently broadcast on Arenasport, a cable television network with five channels, available to subscribers of MAXtv, IPTV solution from T-HT subsidiary T-Com. All matches are broadcast live every week on Arenasport. All highlights are displayed on Sunday evening on RTL 2 and HRT 2.
|+||League champions also won the Croatian Football Cup, i.e. they completed the domestic Double.|
|a||Player received award for top league scorer|
|Season||Champions (titles)||Runners-up||Third place||Top league scorer|
|1992||Hajduk Split (1)||NK Zagreb||Osijek||Ardian Kozniku (Hajduk Split)||CRO||12|
|1992-93||Croatia Zagreb (1)||Hajduk Split||NK Zagreb||Goran Vlaovi? (Croatia Zagreb)||CRO||23|
|1993-94||Hajduk Split (2)||NK Zagreb||Croatia Zagreb||Goran Vlaovi? (Croatia Zagreb)||CRO||29|
|1994-95||Hajduk Split (3) +||Croatia Zagreb||Osijek||Robert ?pehar (Osijek)||CRO||23|
|1995-96||Croatia Zagreb (2) +||Hajduk Split||Varteks||Igor Cvitanovi? (Croatia Zagreb)||CRO||19|
|1996-97||Croatia Zagreb (3) +||Hajduk Split||Hrvatski Dragovoljac||Igor Cvitanovi? (Croatia Zagreb)||CRO||20|
|1997-98||Croatia Zagreb (4) +||Hajduk Split||Osijek||Mate Baturina (NK Zagreb)||CRO||18|
|1998-99||Croatia Zagreb (5)||Rijeka||Hajduk Split||Jo?ko Popovi? (?ibenik)||CRO||21|
|1999-2000||Dinamo Zagreb (6)||Hajduk Split||Osijek||Tomo ?okota (Dinamo Zagreb)||CRO||21|
|2000-01||Hajduk Split (4)||Dinamo Zagreb||Osijek||Tomo ?okota (Dinamo Zagreb)||CRO||20|
|2001-02||NK Zagreb (1)||Hajduk Split||Dinamo Zagreb||Ivica Oli? (NK Zagreb)||CRO||21|
|2002-03||Dinamo Zagreb (7)||Hajduk Split||Varteks||Ivica Oli? (Dinamo Zagreb)||CRO||16|
|2003-04||Hajduk Split (5)||Dinamo Zagreb||Rijeka||Robert ?pehar (Osijek)||CRO||18|
|2004-05||Hajduk Split (6)||Inter Zapre?i?||NK Zagreb||Tomislav Erceg (Rijeka)||CRO||17|
|2005-06||Dinamo Zagreb (8)||Rijeka||Varteks||Ivan Bo?njak (Dinamo Zagreb)||CRO||22|
|2006-07||Dinamo Zagreb (9) +||Hajduk Split||NK Zagreb||Eduardo (Dinamo Zagreb)||CRO||34|
|2007-08||Dinamo Zagreb (10) +||Slaven Belupo||Osijek||?elimir Terke? (Zadar)||BIH||21|
|2008-09||Dinamo Zagreb (11) +||Hajduk Split||Rijeka||Mario Mand?uki? (Dinamo Zagreb)||CRO||16|
|2009-10||Dinamo Zagreb (12)||Hajduk Split||Cibalia||Davor Vugrinec (NK Zagreb)||CRO||18|
|2010-11||Dinamo Zagreb (13) +||Hajduk Split||RNK Split||Ivan Krstanovi? (NK Zagreb)||BIH||19|
|2011-12||Dinamo Zagreb (14) +||Hajduk Split||Slaven Belupo||Fatos Be?iraj (Dinamo Zagreb)||MNE||15|
|2012-13||Dinamo Zagreb (15)||Lokomotiva||Rijeka||Leon Benko (Rijeka)||CRO||19|
|2013-14||Dinamo Zagreb (16)||Rijeka||Hajduk Split||Duje ?op (Dinamo Zagreb)||CRO||22|
|2014-15||Dinamo Zagreb (17) +||Rijeka||Hajduk Split||Andrej Kramari? (Rijeka)||CRO||21|
|2015-16||Dinamo Zagreb (18) +||Rijeka||Hajduk Split||Ilija Nestorovski (Inter Zapre?i?)||MKD||25|
|2016-17||Rijeka (1) +||Dinamo Zagreb||Hajduk Split||Márkó Futács (Hajduk Split)||HUN||18|
|2017-18||Dinamo Zagreb (19) +||Rijeka||Hajduk Split||El Arabi Hillel Soudani (Dinamo Zagreb)||ALG||17|
|2018-19||Dinamo Zagreb (20)||Rijeka||Osijek||Mijo Cakta? (Hajduk Split)||CRO||19|
|2019-20||Dinamo Zagreb (21)||Lokomotiva||Rijeka||Mijo Cakta? (Hajduk Split)
Antonio ?olak a(Rijeka)
Mirko Mari? Osijek)
Notes on name changes:
|1||GNK Dinamo Zagreb||28||2050||903||628||166||109||2255||792||20||4||2||26||1992||1992||1|
|2||HNK Hajduk Split||28||1705||903||499||211||193||1816||946||6||12||6||24||1992||1992||1|
|6||NK Slaven Belupo||22||944||725||245||209||271||988||1066||0||1||1||2||1997-98||1997-98||2|
|9||NK Inter Zapre?i?||19||722||611||190||152||269||751||973||0||1||0||1||1992||2015-16||2|
|13||NK Istra 1961||13||455||436||111||122||203||471||659||0||0||0||0||2004-05||2009-10||6|
|15||NK Hrvatski Dragovoljac||7||312||237||81||69||87||327||455||0||0||1||1||1995-96||2013-14||3|
|17||NK Kamen Ingrad||6||217||191||59||40||92||314||386||0||0||0||0||2001-02||2006-07||4|
|24||HNK Dubrovnik 1919||3||77||86||18||23||45||54||133||0||0||0||0||1992||1993-94||11|
|25||NK Pomorac Kostrena||2||72||62||19||15||28||78||93||0||0||0||0||2001-02||2002-03||7|
|28||NK Primorac 1929||2||60||64||18||17||29||69||103||0||0||0||0||1993-94||1994-95||14|
|31||NK Croatia Sesvete||2||39||63||9||13||41||61||147||0||0||0||0||2008-09||2009-10||12|
|32||NK Radnik Velika Gorica||2||33||64||12||9||43||47||161||0||0||0||0||1992-93||1993-94||13|
|35||HNK Vukovar '91||1||30||33||7||9||17||32||56||0||0||0||0||1999-2000||1999-2000||12|
|37||HNK Orijent 1919||1||26||30||5||11||14||28||53||0||0||0||0||1996-97||1996-97||14|
|39||NK T?K Topolovac||1||14||30||4||2||24||31||95||0||0||0||0||2001-02||2001-02||16|
|40||NK Vara?din (2012)||0||0||0||0||0||0||0||0||0||0||0||0||2019-20||2019-20||-|
|2018-19 Croatian First Football League|
|2018-19 Croatian Second Football League|
|2018-19 Croatian Third Football League|
|No longer exists|
|As of 17 July 2020|
(Bold denotes players still playing in the Prva HNL,
italics denotes players still playing professional football).
Players in the Prva HNL compete for the Prva HNL Top scorer trophy, awarded to the top scorer at the end of each season. Former Dinamo Zagreb striker Igor Cvitanovi? held the record for most Prva HNL goals with 126 until April 2012. Cvitanovi? finished among the top ten goal scorers in 7 out of his 11 seasons in the Prva HNL and won the top scorer title two times. During the 1997-98 season, he became the first player to score 100 Prva HNL goals. On 14 April 2012, Davor Vugrinec scored his 127th goal and surpassed Cvitanovi?'s record. Vugrinec retired in May 2015 with 146 goals on his tally. Only two other players have reached the 100-goal mark, Jo?ko Popovi? and Miljenko Mumlek.
Since the first Prva HNL season in 1992, 19 different players have won the top scorers title. Goran Vlaovi?, Robert ?pehar, Igor Cvitanovi?, Tomislav ?okota and Ivica Oli? have won two titles each. Dinamo Zagreb provided most top scorers in Prva HNL with 12. Eduardo holds the record for most goals in a season with 34, done with Dinamo Zagreb in the 2006-07 season. Six goals is the record individual scoring total for a player in a single Prva HNL match, held by Marijo Dodik.
Dinamo Zagreb became the first team to have scored 1,000 goals in the league after Etto scored in a 4-0 victory over NK Zagreb in the 2005-06 season. The highest-scoring match to date in the Prva HNL occurred on 12 December 1993 when Dinamo Zagreb defeated minnows NK Pazinka 10-1.
|As of 23 February 2020|
(Bold denotes players still playing in the Prva HNL,
italics denotes players still playing professional football).
There are three awards for best players in the Croatian First League: