|Number of teams|
|Levels on pyramid||5|
The Fußball-Oberliga (Plural: Oberligen) (English: Upper league) is currently the name of the fifth tier of the German football (soccer) leagues. Before the introduction of the 3. Fußball-Liga in 2008, it was the fourth tier. The word Oberliga is equivalent to Premier League in English, however, its literal translation would be Upper League. At the end of the 2011–12 season the number of Oberligas was increased from eleven to fourteen.
The term Oberliga was also used prior to the establishment of the Gauliga system in 1933 and again between the end of World War II and the formation of the Bundesliga in 1963 for first division leagues in Germany. Between 1978–94 the term Amateuroberliga was used for third tier leagues, which were then the highest level of amateur play in the country. The current usage of the designation Oberliga was introduced in 1994. In East Germany a separate league structure was in place from 1948–1990 and the top flight division there was known as the DDR-Oberliga.
From the end of the 2nd World War until the formation of the Bundesliga in 1963 there were five regional Oberligen:
Based on criteria outlined by the German association in October 1962 an evaluation system covering the last 12 seasons was established through which the sixteen clubs from these five leagues were established which were to form the new nationwide first division Bundesliga, with the others going to the new second tier Regionalligen.
Champions of Pre-Bundesliga Oberligen
|1946||–||–||1. FC Saarbrücken||VfB Stuttgart||SG Wilmersdorf|
|1947||–||–||1. FC Kaiserslautern||1. FC Nürnberg||SG Charlottenburg|
|1948||Hamburger SV||Borussia Dortmund||1. FC Kaiserslautern||1. FC Nürnberg||Union Oberschöneweide|
|1949||Hamburger SV||Borussia Dortmund||1. FC Kaiserslautern||Kickers Offenbach||Berliner SV 92|
|1950||Hamburger SV||Borussia Dortmund||1. FC Kaiserslautern||SpVgg Fürth||Tennis Borussia Berlin|
|1951||Hamburger SV||FC Schalke 04||1. FC Kaiserslautern||1. FC Nürnberg||Tennis Borussia Berlin|
|1952||Hamburger SV||Rot-Weiss Essen||1. FC Saarbrücken||VfB Stuttgart||Tennis Borussia Berlin|
|1953||Hamburger SV||Borussia Dortmund||1. FC Kaiserslautern||Eintracht Frankfurt||SC Union 06 Berlin|
|1954||Hannover 96||1. FC Köln||1. FC Kaiserslautern||VfB Stuttgart||Berliner SV 92|
|1955||Hamburger SV||Rot-Weiss Essen||1. FC Kaiserslautern||Kickers Offenbach||BFC Viktoria 1889|
|1956||Hamburger SV||Borussia Dortmund||1. FC Kaiserslautern||Karlsruher SC||BFC Viktoria 1889|
|1957||Hamburger SV||Borussia Dortmund||1. FC Kaiserslautern||1. FC Nürnberg||Hertha BSC|
|1958||Hamburger SV||FC Schalke 04||FK Pirmasens||Karlsruher SC||Tennis Borussia Berlin|
|1959||Hamburger SV||Westfalia Herne||FK Pirmasens||Eintracht Frankfurt||SC Tasmania 1900 Berlin|
|1960||Hamburger SV||1. FC Köln||FK Pirmasens||Karlsruher SC||SC Tasmania 1900 Berlin|
|1961||Hamburger SV||1. FC Köln||1. FC Saarbrücken||1. FC Nürnberg||Hertha BSC|
|1962||Hamburger SV||1. FC Köln||Borussia Neunkirchen||1. FC Nürnberg||SC Tasmania 1900 Berlin|
|1963||Hamburger SV||1. FC Köln||1. FC Kaiserslautern||TSV 1860 München||Hertha BSC|
If the champion of an Oberliga is the B-team of a club which already has a team in the Regionalliga, or which has a team which will be relegated to the Regionalliga, the B-team cannot be promoted, and the next highest qualified team will be promoted instead.
There are fourteen "Oberligen", based on states and regions of Germany.
Promotion from the Oberligas to the 2nd Bundesliga
From 1974 to 1994, the Oberligas, originally called 1st Amateurliga, were set right below the two 2nd Bundesligas, North and South. Originally there was 15 Amateurligas which were reduced to 8 Oberligas in 1978. From 1981 the 2nd Bundesliga was reduced to one single league. Because there always were more Oberliga champions then promotion spots, these clubs had to determine the promoted teams by the way of a promotion play-off to the 2. Bundesliga, called "Aufstiegsrunde zur 2. Bundesliga".
Short history of the Oberligas
Since 2012–13 fourteen leagues exist on Oberliga level, increased from eleven the previous season:
The Oberliga Baden-Württemberg was formed in 1978 to provide a single-division 3rd tier league for the state of Baden-Württemberg. Previously, the clubs in the state had played in four separate Amateurligas; Nordwürttemberg, Schwarzwald-Bodensee, Nordbaden and Südbaden. Two of those were merged, the Amateurligas Nordwürttemberg and Schwarzwald-Bodensee to form the Verbandsliga Württemberg.
- Feeder leagues to the Oberliga Baden-Württemberg
The Fußball-Bayernliga was formed in 1945. In 1946–47, 1947–48 and from 1953–54 till 1962–63 it was split in a northern and a southern division. From 1963 to 2012 it played in the single division format. Since 2012 it again plays with a northern and a southern division.
- Feeder leagues to the Bayernliga
- Landesliga Bayern-Nordost
- Landesliga Bayern-Nordwest
- Landesliga Bayern-Mitte
- Landesliga Bayern-Südost
- Landesliga Bayern-Südwest
The Bremen-Liga was established in 2008.
- Feeder league to the Bremen-Liga
The Oberliga Hamburg was established in 2008.
- Feeder leagues to the Oberliga Hamburg
The Hessenliga was formed in 1945. In its first two seasons, 1945/46 and 1946/47 it played in two separate divisions, east and west. Since then it has been a single league and is the oldest Oberliga to operate continuously in this format.
- Feeder leagues to the Hessenliga
- Feeder leagues to the Oberliga Mittelrhein
- Feeder leagues to the Oberliga Niederrhein
The Oberliga Niedersachsen was established in 2008, initially in two regional divisions, in 2010 reduced to a single division league.
- Feeder leagues to the Oberliga Niedersachsen
The NOFV-Oberliga was established in 1991 after the German reunification. It covers former East Germany and the city of Berlin. Originally having three divisions, in 1994 the NOFV-Oberliga Mitte ceased and its clubs were split between the other two divisions, NOFV-Oberliga Nord and NOFV-Oberliga Süd.
- Feeder Leagues to the NOFV-Oberliga
- Verbandsliga Mecklenburg-Vorpommern
- Verbandsliga Sachsen-Anhalt
- Verbandsliga Thüringen
The participating teams are redistributed between the northern and the southern division based on geographical needs. If possible, teams from Berlin, Brandenburg and Mecklenburg-Vorpommern promote to the northern division, whereas teams from Saxony, Saxony-Anhalt and Thuringia promote to the southern division.
The Schleswig-Holstein-Liga was established in 2008.
- Feeder leagues to the Schleswig-Holstein-Liga
- Verbandsliga Schleswig-Holstein-Nord-West
- Verbandsliga Schleswig-Holstein-Nord-Ost
- Verbandsliga Schleswig-Holstein-Süd-West
- Verbandsliga Schleswig-Holstein-Süd-Ost
The Oberliga Rheinland-Pfalz/Saar, named Oberliga Südwest until 2012, was formed in 1978 to provide a single-division third tier league for the two states Saarland and Rheinland-Pfalz. Previously, the clubs that make up this Oberliga played in three separate leagues; the Amateurligas Südwest, Saarland, and Rheinland.
- Feeder leagues to the Oberliga Südwest
- Feeder leagues to the Oberliga Westfalen
The Amateur-Oberliga Berlin was established in 1974 to accommodate the majority of clubs of the Regionalliga Berlin when this league ceased to exist. With the German reunification in 1991 the Oberliga Berlin ceased to exist and its clubs were spread between the NOFV-Oberliga Nord and the NOFV-Oberliga Mitte. The highest level of league play in Berlin is now the Berlin-Liga.
The Oberliga Hamburg/Schleswig-Holstein existed from 1994 till 2004 as a replacement for the Oberliga Nord. With the reestablishment of the Oberliga Nord, the Oberliga Hamburg/Schleswig-Holstein ceased to exist.
The Oberliga Nordrhein was established in 1978 as a new joint amateur top flight for the best teams of the Verbandsliga Niederrhein and the Verbandsliga Mittelrhein. It was replaced by the NRW-Liga in 2008, which is a merger of the Oberliga Nordrhein and the Oberliga Westfalen.
The Oberliga Nord was formed in 1974 to form a highest playing level for the states of Niedersachsen, Schleswig-Holstein, Hamburg and Bremen. As such it was a continuation of the old Regionalliga Nord which was superseded by the 2. Bundesliga Nord in 1974. It stopped operating in 1994 when the Regionalliga Nord was reformed, now as the third tier of the German football league system. It was replaced by the Oberliga Hamburg/Schleswig-Holstein and the Oberliga Niedersachsen/Bremen. In 2004 the Oberliga Nord was re-established to replace these two leagues. To add to the confusion, the Oberliga Nord again ceased to exist after the 2007–08 season with the establishment of the 3. Liga.