Soccer games are considered the most popular sport in the world. There is literally no one who hasn’t heard of the sports with the exception of babies, that is. The game is usually played by two opposing teams that consists of 11 players each, including the two goalkeepers for the teams. It is usually played on a very wide green turf which may be natural grass or artificial turf. The purpose of the competition is to make sure the soccer ball enters the goal post of the opposing team. There are rules to the game of soccer briefly summarized as:
Rule 1: the field of play – that the field must be green grass, artificial or natural with regulated measurements;
Rule 2: the ball – that the ball must be spherical, made of rubber with the regulated circumference. The rubber is vulcanized – a treatment that improves its quality giving it strength, elasticity, and solvent-resistance ability;
Rule 3: the number of players – that maximum number of players must be 11 excluding the substitutes. 7 substitutes are chosen but only three can be made. If the team is unable to produce at least 7 members by the time the match starts, they would forfeit the game;
Rule 4: the players’ equipment – stating what players are allowed to wear and what would happen if they fall short. Every single player is expected to wear a jersey or shirt, shorts, shin guards/pads, socks, and cleats i.e. footwear. The rule states that the shin guards must be completely covered by the socks, made of plastic, rubber or something similar; shirts must be sleeved (short or long, both are accepted); goalkeepers wear distinctive shirts which are easily told apart from other players and the referees; undershorts may be worn but must tally in color with the shorts on top;
Rule 5: the referee – the authority on the field. He is the person charged with the responsibility of ensuring that no single law of the game is broken. Questioning a referee’s decision could incur discipline on the offender.;
Rule 6: other match officials i.e. the assistant referee – advises the referee but is subject to the referee’s final decision. The ‘other match officials’ actually refer to the two officials in charge of touchline patrol;
Rule 7: the duration of the match – divided into two halves of 45 minutes each. Each halve is called the half-time and has a 15-minute rest in between them which must not exceed 15 minutes. Based on the referee’s decision, an extra time could be added;
Rule 8: the start and restart of play – talks about the stoppage and restarting of a match, what can start it, what can stop it, and what can restart it;
Rule 9: the ball in and out of play – talks about what position the ball must be in to be considered in play or out of play;
Rule 10: the method of scoring – what is considered a goal and what is not;
Rule 11: offside – player on the wrong side of the field. This offence is not a foul or a misconduct although any play carried out after the commission of the offence is useless – it is not counted. The offender is not penalized, only cautioned;
Rule 12: fouls and misconduct – violent or inappropriate behavior that could cause a player to be sent off the field;
Rule 13: free kicks – direct or indirect kicks that are made to set a match in motion;
Rule 14: the penalty kick – given defending team when opposing team plays foul;
Rule 15: the throw-in – when ball rolls off the field and is thrown back in at the right spot;
Rule 16: the goal kick – the ball play that counts as goal. A goal is counted when the ball rolls out of the pitch crossing the goal line, on the ground or in the air; and, last but not least,
Rule 17: the corner kick – played by the offensive team when ball is played out of field by defending team.
These rules are upheld, updated and enforced by the International Football Association Board (IFAB).
Soccer game can only be played with the feet, knee or head; if otherwise, i.e. with the hand, there is penalty. Except for goal keeper, the ball is never touched. The game of soccer can be played and is being played by all levels of individuals around the world ranging from leagues consisting of little kids to leagues of professional and international soccer athletes.
There are many competitions, plays, and championships in the game of soccer. The competitions in soccer can be divided into two levels namely:
International competitions, and Club competitions.
Each level contains many games being held either annually, every two years or, like the FIFA world cup, every four years. Let us consider them one by one:
Competitions at the International Levels
This level is further subdivided into two: World competitions and Continental competitions.
FIFA World Cup
This is the biggest game ever in the world of soccer. The game is played internationally i.e. each country is represented. Matches are played three years before the competition to choose qualifying teams that will eventually play in the World Cup. Only 32 teams play the World Cup and it happens every four years. The big event can take place in any country. For instance, the last World Cup which was played in 2018 was held in Russia. France defeated Croatia by 4 goals to 2 and won the gold medal and the trophy. Since it started, there has been 21 World Cups held.
FIFA Confederations Cup
Although not as big as the World Cup, it is a pretty important match too. It is a soccer event consisting of a collection of teams. The teams include the winners of the confederation tournaments, the World Cup, and the host country gather for a single tournament. Like the World Cup, it also takes place every four years although not in the same year as the World Cup. The last one, the most recent, was held in Russia 2017. Germany played against Chile and won the cup. Only Brazil and France have won the cup twice.
Competitions at the Continental Level
This competition is played by confederation i.e. country against country. The games played at the level include:
UEFA European Football Championship
This championship competition is also referred to as Euro. It is most watched in Europe. It also takes place every four years but it takes place two years before the World Cup. The championship qualifies just nine groups with the leading two teams from each group, the best third place team, and the winners of a match’s play-off game between the other third place. Their winning or losing will determine whether they will go to the next phase of not. The most recent UEFA championship was held in 2016 and was won by Portugal. Portugal team played against France and won with 1-0 points.
UEFA Nations League
This championship competition is held biennially i.e. every two years. It is an international association football competition which is played by the national teams’ older men who are also members of the UEFA association. UEFA is this sport’s European governing body. Its first tournament was held in 2018 held after the FIFA World Cup in 2018. Four group winners are selected from League A and these winners consequently qualifies for the finals. Date for finals is yet to be fixed but is expected to hold in any European city in 2019.
There will be four countries, each representing their respective leagues, who will eventually qualify for the UEFA Euro finals to be held in 2020. There are 55 UEFA national teams and the approved pattern of game play is that those 55 teams will be divided into four separate leagues, each league with different number of teams. League A will consist of 12 teams, League B is expected to consist of 12 teams also, 15 and 16 teams in both Leagues C and D respectively. Four groups are further formed in each league and they eventually play both home and away games among one another. And then, of course, the winner is crowned.
AFC Asian Cup
This championship competition is another type of game of soccer. This game is the second oldest continental football competition in the world. The first is Copa America. It is the main competition held for and in Asian countries. However, Australia is usually permitted to participate of which the team won the championship once. This championship competition is considered an internationally based association football tournament. Its program and events are run and overseen by the Asian Football Confederation. Qualified teams play with one another until there’s only one team standing. The team is then crowned the champion of Asia. And they carry the title until the next match where it is given to the next champion. In the event that they win the next championship, they retain their title. The remain champion until a losing team decides it is tired of losing.
CAF Africa Cup of Nations
One of the championship tournaments held by Africa, in Africa, and consisting of only teams from African countries. It is the main competition for African countries (CAF). It is a biennial game i.e. it is held every two years around January, February. The UEFA European Championship Finals, Summer Olympics held between teams in African countries, and the CAF Africa Cup of Nations are all held in the same year although not in the same months. The latest CAF championship competition was held sometime in February, 2017 in the country of Gabon. Cameroon who has carried the trophy four times already won yet again making it the fifth time. Currently, Cameroon is considered the champion of Africa as far as the CAF African Cup of Nations is concerned.
CONMEBOL Copa América
The South American Football Confederation is one of FIFA’s six continental confederations. It is the governing body of football in South America with the exception of some countries like Guyana, Suriname, and French Guiana. This sports association is the oldest continental confederation in all the world. It has its headquarters situated in Paraguay, Luque, and somewhere around Asuncion.
The confederation, CONMEBOL, is in charge of organizing and governing all major international football tournaments. Of all the FIFA confederations, it has the fewest number of members. It has only ten (10) members. The confederation’s national team has won FIFA World Cup nine times while its clubs have won the International Cup 22 times and the FIFA Club World Cups four times. This confederation is said to be one of the strongest confederations in the world with its qualifiers referred to as the toughest.
The competition is the main competition for CONMEBOL consisting of all teams consisted in the federation. The time it holds is not fixed so it can hold at any time. Times it holds changes rather frequently depending on when the next date is. The most recent game was held in 2016 where Chill, for the first time, won against Argentina who has been a 14-time winner. They won in penalty kicks after the game ended in a draw. The country that holds the record for the most wins is Uruguay and their most recent win was back in the year 2011.
CONCACAF Gold Cup
The Confederation of North, Central American and Caribbean Association Football, also one of FIFA’s 6 continental confederations and governing bodies for soccer (which is also known as association football). It consists of 41 members which include countries/ nations and areas in North America which includes the Caribbean and Central America. The three South American countries which do not belong to CONMEBOL, i.e. Guyana, Suriname, and French Guiana, also belong to this soccer confederation.
The confederation is primarily saddled with the responsibility of organizing competitions the national teams and clubs as well as to conduct and oversee World Cup and Women’s World Cup qualifying tournaments. It is considered the third most successful confederation of FIFA. Since the tournament began, the dominating country has been Mexico till date who holds 8 titles already.
Mexico has won the most Gold Cups in the tournaments. The United States being the most recent champions with 6 titles follows Mexico, and then Canada who holds 1 title. It is the main competition in countries that fall into CONCACAF. Just like CONMEBOL, there is no fixed interval for CONCACAF tournaments.
OFC Nations Cup
The Oceania Football Confederation (OFC) Nations Cup is an international football competition among nations who are members of the confederation. The members include New Zealand, Papua New Guinea, Fiji, Tonga, and other Pacific Island countries – there are 14 members in all. The game is conducted in Oceania and allows only member nations of the confederation qualify for the FIFA World Cup. Between 1996 – 2004, it was held biennially i.e. every two years. Before then, it had been held at irregular intervals. There was no tournament held after 2004 until 2008. The tournament held in 2008 acted as qualification tournament for the FIFA Confederations Cup in 2010 where New Zealand was crowned winner. There hasn’t been a tournament held since then.
We’ve looked at international competitions, let’s now look at lesser competitions. The soccer club, also called football league, of any country is made up of small leagues. These small leagues are referee to as football clubs. Club championship competitions include:
World Club Competitions
FIFA Club World Cup
It consists of the top clubs from all the six confederations under FIFA. Before the year 2000, it was known as the Intercontinental Cup. The last match was in 2018 where Real Madrid won the trophy and championship title.
Continentally Based FIFA Club World Cup
These are clubs by confederation i.e. international clubs.
UEFA Champions League and Europa League
The Champions League are considered the biggest winning clash of the European League. Among the 32 teams that qualify for a match round, 16 qualify from each group. Then comes the quarter finals, and then the semi-finals and, finally, the finals. Only four teams qualify for finals out of which only one team is crowned winner. As is the normal practice in the game of soccer, the last man standing takes the crown. Liver pool defeated Tottenham Hotspur with a 2-0 goal score thereby recording their 6th win. The Europa league, being another major trophy, is made up of 48 teams but the third place champion league team joins the draw for the concession of the 16th round of the match, the quarter, semis, and finals. Currently, Chelsea FC holds the championship title.
AFC Champions League
The Asian Football Confederation (AFC) Champions League was organized by the Asian Football Confederation (AFC). It is an annually held continental club football championship competition. It was introduced in the year 2002 and has been in motion since. It is the continuation of the football federation that started back in 1967. It is equivalent to CONMEBOL Copa Libertadores and the UEFA, CAF, CONCACAF and OFC Champions League tournaments. It is the highest club competition in the whole of Asia. The most successful club in the league is Pohang Steelers holding three titles. At the moment, the reigning champions are Kashima Antlers who would be winning the tournament for the very first time.
CAF Champions League
This is an annual continental club football tournament overseen by the Confederation of African Football (CAF). It is similar to the UEFA Champions League. For sponsorship related reasons, its official name is Total CAF Champions League. The strongest clubs from Africa’s football leagues are invited over to take part in the competition. It is the apex of all club football competitions in Africa. Whoever wins the tournament is given a berth for the FIFA World Cup which will be a contest between champion clubs from all the six FIFA continental confederations. They also face the winner of the CAF Confederation Cup come the next CAF Super Cup. Unlike the UEFA, it is played by 8 teams who are put in a group phase after round after qualifying rounds. The recent champions were Mamelodi Sundowns of South Africa who won the trophy for the first time in their second appearance in the game in the year 2016. The highest winning club is Al-Ahly holding seven titles. The local Egyptian rivals Al-Zamalek who holds five titles follows closely.
CONMEBOL Copa Libertadores
This club football competition, originally named as Copa Libertadores de América, is an annual international club football tournament brought about by the CONMEBOL since the year 1960. The club is named in honor of the major leaders of South American wars of independence, the Libertadores i.e. liberators. The literal translation is “Liberators of America Cup”. It is seen as one of the highest classed competitions in the world and the most highly esteemed club competitions in South American football. Other than the UEFA championship league, it is the most watched national clubs’ league. Current champions are the Argentinian River Plate who won the trophy in the tournament held in 2018-2019.
CONCACAF Champions League
The CONCACAF Champions League, a continental club football competition held annually, is organized and overseen by CONCACAF and is the top football club in North America, Central America, and in the Caribbean. Whoever ends up winning the competition is considered qualified for the FIFA World Cup. Since 2015, for sponsorship reasons, the championship competition is officially known as the Scotiabank CONCACAF Champions League.
OFC Champions League
The OFC Champions league is organized and managed by Oceania’s governing body for football, the Oceania Football Confederation (OFC). Being the successor of Oceania Club Championship. organization has been the same format which, is the current format, since 2007. It is the premier men’s club football tournament in the country of Oceania. The leading team is New Zealand who has won twelve OFC Champions League titles. Papua New Guinea, the runner up, and New Caledonia are the only Pacific nations to have ever won any of the tournaments. this sums up all soccer games for kids