Let the tournaments continue!!

While regular leagues stick to one country, there are multi-national tournaments, that focus on teams in one region (or continent) and include teams from more than one country.  This usually makes things a little more confusing, since sometimes it’s the same teams, and sometime it’s country teams.

So I figured I’d do a short intro to the main multi-national competitions you’ll come across.  Or, to be more honest, the popular ones in Europe and the Americas.  Since I don’t want (or care) about any others, and no one’s asked me about them, I’ll leave them out.  But in case you’re curious, there are many more than I’ve listed below.  The ones I have listed are held every year.

1. UEFA Champions League. With 58 member countries eligible for the 32 spots, the Champions League spans the entirety of the European continent. The winner qualifies for the UEFA Super Cup and the FIFA Club World Cup.  The biggest sporting event in the world, the Champions League draws approximately 178 million viewers.  The reigning champions are the Spanish club Barcelona.

2. UEFA Europa league. To be totally honest, I’m not clear on this one.  It seems that qualification depends on the country’s UEFA ranking.  I believe the top three countries/leagues get 4 spots each, the next five get three each, thirteen get two, and the last eleven get one each.  But then there is a whole lot of ‘ifs’ and qualifications and seeding…and then more teams are added…so yeah.  If anyone can clear this one up and make it simple, I’d really appreciate it!!  You can check out the official format here.

3. UEFA Super Cup. Annual football game between the winners of the Champions League and the Europa League. It is a single match, which is held in a neutral stadium, the Stade Louis II in Monaco.  Starting in 2013, it will be held in different locations. A.C. Milan have the most wins, with five.  The current champions are Barcelona.

4. CONCACAF Champions League. This one is from North America, Central America, and the Caribbean.  It is 24 teams competing for the win, along with a spot at the FIFA Club World Cup.  Until 2011, when the MLS team Real Salt Lake raeched the finals, all finals had been fought between two Mexican teams.

5. The Copa Satander Libertadores de América: Commonly referred to as the Copa Libertadores, is an internation competition between countries in South America and Mexico.  There are approximately 38 teams that firght for the cup, with Argentina and Brazil entering five clubs, while the others enter at least three.  The winner is eligible for the FIFA Club World Cup and the Recopa Sudamericana.  The current champion is the Brazilian club Santos.

6. Copa Bridgestone Sudamerica de Clubes: Commonly known as the Copa Sudamerica.  It began in 2002, when Copa Merconorte and Copa Mercosur combined.  Currently, there are 47 teams that play for the title, with 8 coming from Brazil, 6 from Argentina, 4 from each of the other countries, plus the defending champion.  The winner also qualifies to play in the Recopa Sudamerica.  The current champion is the Chilean club Universidad de Chile.

7. Recopa Sudamericana: This is the Spanish world’s version of the Super Cup.  The winners of the Copa Libertadores and the Copa Sudamerica.  It is two games, with one played at each team’s home field.  The current champion is Brazilian club Internacional.

There are also a bunch of FIFA tournaments and cups, as well as a few others, that are held every four years ro so, and I’ll do my best to put up a list of those tomorrow.  Honestly, I knew there were a lot, but this is crazy!!  No wonder men are always watching sports.  They clearly never end!!



Soccer leagues: a short introduction

So one of the things most people ask me about are the different leagues.  There’s a lot of them, and if you’re a sometime observer and not an actual full-time follower, it can be hard to keep track of them.  Even more so if you’re not in Europe.

So I’ve decided to clarify some.

The easiest way to differentiate them is to know that basically, each league is from a separate country.  UEFA, which I get asked about a lot, isn’t a league.  It’s a competition held that includes the top teams from all European leagues.

So here’s a quick look:

1. Spain: La Liga. Although commonly known as La Liga, the full title is the Primera División (First Division) of the Liga Nacional de Fútbol Profesional (LFP).  Twenty teams play for the title.  Every season, the three lowest teams are sent down to the Second Division, while the three best teams from there are brought up to the First.  There are many well-known teams in this league, including Real Madrid, Barcelona, Valencia, and Sevilla, Villa Real, and Atlético Madrid.  According to Wikipedia, La Liga has four of the most successful teams in European competition history: Valencia, Real Madrid, Barcelona and Atlético Madrid.  Barcelona, commonly known as Barça, also has the most UEFA Champions League wins.

2. England: Premier League. The Premiere league runs similar to La Liga: twenty teams compete for the title, and the three lowest teams are sent down to the Football League Championship, while the two top teams, along with the winner of a play-off held between the teams placed 3rd to 6th, are moved into the Premier League.  Games are broadcast to over 600 million people in 200 countries.  Well-known clubs include: Manchester United, Arsenal, Chelsea, Liverpool, Manchester City, and Aston villa.

3. Germany: Fußball-Bundesliga. Similar to the other leagues, the bundesliga is divided into two divisions: 1. Bundesliga (also known as First Bundesliga) and 2. Bundesliga (Second Bundesliga).  This league also works on promotion and relegation: the top two teams of the Second League are promoted to the First, while the lowest two teams of the first are relegated to the Second.  The most well-known German clubs include Bayern Munich, Borussia Dortmund, Hamburger SV, Werder Bremen, Schalke 04, Bayer Leverkusen and VfB Stuttgart.

4. Italy: Serie A. Italy’s football league, Serie A, has been around since 1898, and began the round-robin format in 1929.  Currently, twenty teams play for the title, with teams promoted and relegated to Serie B.  It’s host to three of the world’s most famous clubs: Juventus, A.C. Milan, and Inernazionale (known as Inter or Inter Milan).

5. North America: MLS (Major League Soccer). Composed of 19 teams, MLS is both in the US (16 teams) and Canada (3 teams).  Unlike most other leagues, there is no second tier for teams to be relegated into – all teams, including the lower-ranked ones, compete the following season.  Although originally the rules deviated some from the standard, they were all reverted back after the 1999 season, to international soccer standards.  Unlike all other leagues (again!!), the season runs spring-to-fall, and conflicts with events such as the CONCACAF Wold Cup and FIFA World Cup, which causes many players to abandon their teams to play in the tournaments.

So yes, those are the ones I get asked about the most.  Of course, there are many, many more, as most countries have a league of some sort.  Hopefully that was at least a little helpful!!  With the hundreds of teams around, keeping track of them may be confusing. Once you add in all the international and cross-league tournaments, it makes it even more complicated.  I’ll try and do a post on all those tournaments tomorrow.