European Soccer Leagues Explained
August 10, 2015
The UEFA stands for the “Union of European Football Associations.”
Like the NHL or NBA, teams are allowed to field the best team they can afford, and they sign players from around the world to multi-million dollar contracts if they think they can help them to win. So, there are opportunities for all of the professional and amateur clubs to play each other. The best of the top division clubs have multi-million dollar budgets that rival North American professionals sports. Understanding how these leagues work has already made me into more of a soccer fan – I now understand what’s going on and what’s at stake. I’ll use the term “soccer” instead of “football” to avoid confusion with North American football.
NATIONAL PROFESSIONAL LEAGUES
First of all, every major soccer country has it’s own professional league, all playing with the same FIFA (Federation Internationale de Football Association)rules. While not every team is invited (usually it’s the less successful Division 1 teams and the top from each lower division and amateur leagues).
To answer these questions I did some research and what follows is a quick summary. Why are there players from Brazil playing in Manchester, England? What are all these terms I keep hearing about: Premierships, First league, FA Cup?
These teams play mid-week (most national club games are on weekends), through four phases of play which eventually qualifies only two teams for the championship game. Teams from the bottom of the First League (often the bottom three) are “relegated” or “dropped” to the second division in the next season, and the top three teams from the second division are promoted to the top division. And the prestige of these competitions varies from country to country. The winner is the National Club Champion.
While these national league and cup competitions are taking place, the professional league champion from each country (based on last year’s results), and a few second-place finishers, are simultaneously competing in the UEFA Champions League. A 2006 BBC survey showed that the average wage per year for players in England’s Premier league was 676,000 pounds sterling, or about $1.1 million dollars per year.
THE NATIONAL CUP CHAMPIONSHIPS (I.E. No advancement through divisions occurs from the results of this league, and the top teams often play their second string. But what about all the other leagues and championships that take place between the World Cup. In Germany, however, cup competitions get little attention.
Since the placement in leagues is based on play from the previous year, it’s possible that a team from the second, third or even amateur division might actually be the best in the country. Because of this, every game holds great significance, both financially and in terms of prestige.
While the extra money gives the teams in the top league the best chance of remaining in the top league, that position is performance-based. This game receives huge international attention.
These National Cup competitions are single elimination and take place throughout the season, usually in the amateur club’s venues — which can create quite a stir. It’s easy to understand: the best players compete for their country with national teams advancing through qualifying tournaments in order to play in the big show. In England, the chance of seeing a huge upset makes the matches very popular and its FA Cup Final is a major event. The championship in these leagues is based on the best record over the course of the season, and the teams play each other twice or four times. That’s why a player like Portugal’s Cristiano Ronaldo played for England’s Manchester United this year, and Argentina’s Lionel Messi played for Barcelona. FA CUP)
Beneath these teams are the amateur leagues comprised of regional or local teams, with players playing only for a small stipend. The same exchange occurs between the second and third division, if there is one.
This article is for those of you who don’t understand European soccer and how the different leagues and championships operate.
The World Cup is the highest profile soccer tournament on earth. Amateur teams can be promoted into the professional ranks and the worst pro teams and be dropped to amateurs. These national club leagues often have two or more divisions, with the top division getting the most attention, and hence making the most money. This year, it was Barcelona versus Manchester United, with the underdog Barcelona coming out on top. The top division in England, for example, is called the Premier League and usually includes teams such and Manchester United, Liverpool and Arsenal. In Spain, Real Madrid, FC Barcelona and Valencia play in their Primera Liga, and in Italy, AC Milan and Inter Milan play in their top Serie A league.
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