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The 11 Best Soccer/Football Events Around The World

Whether you call it soccer or football, there is no denying that the sport makes for some spectacular events all around the world. If you are a football fan, your bucket list probably already features some of these Cups and tournaments. But if it doesn’t yet, grab a pen! Here are 11 worldwide soccer events that you’ll want to see in your lifetime:

1. The FIFA World Cup

Often simply called the “World Cup”, this is the largest international soccer tournament in the world. Hosted by the Fèdèration Internationale de Football Association, or FIFA, it draws in more viewers than the entire Olympic Games.

Inspired by the success of soccer at the Olympic Games, FIFA began its attempt to organize an international soccer tournament of its own in 1904. It took until 1930 before they pulled it off, hosting the first World Cup in Uruguay, with the home team as the first champions. Since then, excluding the years when World War II prevented the championship, the World Cup has been played every four years, rising above its early obstacles of intercontinental conflict to become the world’s premier football event.

But these intercontinental conflicts aren’t just limited to war. Travel concerns between teams were also a huge concern. For example, early on many South American teams didn’t want to travel all the way to Europe. Concerns about international travel costs persist to present day, especially considering the already-expensive tickets to the game itself.


Fortunately, the FIFA website offers travel packages available a year before the games begin. These tickets sell out quick, even with the early availability. After securing your tickets, it’s important to plan your trip carefully. The Cup lasts for a month, so even if your team doesn’t make it to the final rounds after a month of playing, it is always good to be prepared in case they do. Don’t you want to be able to stay til the end and cheer on your team? Otherwise, bring your country’s flag colors, plenty of water, and all your national pride!

What makes the FIFA World Cup truly the best world football event is its cultural symbolism. In a world rife with international conflict, which is constantly changing thanks to globalization, the FIFA World Cup represents overcoming national differences and uniting together as a world under the name of soccer. The World Cup represents peace, diversity, and tolerance. For soccer and society, the World Cup truly is a “world” event.


2. Olympics Soccer

Soccer was first introduced in the Olympic games in 1908 as an official competition, with women’s soccer being introduced in 1928. In the early years, soccer in the Olympics was only played by amateurs and was more for show than an actual serious competition. But the rising popularity of the sport raised the stakes. To this day, it is one of the most popular, viewed, and followed sport competitions in the Summer Olympics, and the second most in the sport itself.


Like planning to attend the World Cup, planning to attend the Olympics takes a lot of time. Tickets should be purchased at least a year in advance, and they will be expensive, so make sure to save up if you definitely want to go. And depending on travel conditions between your home country and the host country, getting there will take some planning as well. Unlike the FIFA Games, the Olympics only last seventeen days, making attending these events less of a time commitment. But that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t plan ahead — the events are often sprawled out in time and location, so you need to schedule your time carefully.


3. UEFA Champions League

The Union of European Football Associations Champions League is an annual continental club football competition played between the top-division European football clubs. It is one of the most prestigious athletic competitions in the world and the most prestigious club competition in European football.The League plays all year, with the first qualifying rounds beginning in the middle of July and ending with the final championship in late May of the following year. Real Madrid of Spain is currently the League’s most successful club, having won the competition a total of ten times.

Since the Champions League have games running for nearly ninety-percent of the year, it is easier to attend a game in your own home country (if you’re European) than it would be for the FIFA World Cup or the Olympics. But since the Champions League is the most prestigious in European football, tickets are still expensive and sell fast, making them hard to come by, so be prepared and plan and buy in advance.

Europe is second only to the Americas in its passion for and popularity of football, and is arguably their equal in talent. That means the cream of the crop in Europe is playing in the UEFA Champions League, and these games determine the best of the best in one of the best places for football in the world.


4. UEFA European Championship

Simply called “The Euros”, the UEFA European Championship is the primary football competition between the senior men’s national teams of the UEFA’s member countries. Originally called the UEFA European Nations Cup, this championship determines the continental champion of Europe. It is held every four even-numbered years, from the second week of June to the second week of July, between the World Cup tournaments so as not to cause any overlap or conflict. The European Championship can be co-hosted by two neighboring qualified European countries. The championship winners have the added bonus of earning the opportunity to compete in the FIFA Confederations Cup.


The Championship was founded in 1960 and has been played every four years ever since. The idea of a pan-European football tournament was first proposed by Henri Delaunay, the French Football Federation’s secretary-general, in 1927 but wasn’t made official until 1958, three years after Delaunay’s death, leading the trophy to be named after him and the game’s first hosting country to be France in his honor. Over the next fifty years the qualified teams would expand from eight to twenty-four. The current champions are Spain, who won in 2012, and the next championship is to be held this year from June 10th to July 10th, 2016, in France.

Since the UEFA European Championship runs every four years, it is difficult to get tickets and transportation. Tickets must be purchased a year in advance and travel arrangements planned and made as soon as the next hosting country is announced, which is typically every three years or the year following the latest championship game.


5. Copa America

Copa America is an international men’s association football tournament based in the Americas, which is arguably the most passionate and popular place for football in the world along with Europe. 2016 marks the centennial celebration of the Copa America championship and also its first time being hosted outside of South America in its one-hundred-year-long history, in the United States. Although soccer is not nearly as popular in the United States compared to Latin America and Europe, hosting the Copa America in the United States boosts its identity as an international though still specially American tournament.

Tickets must be purchased a year in advance and travel arrangements made as soon as the new hosting country is announced, which is typically two years before the next cup or a year after the previous cup.

The Copa America is special because it is the oldest international continental football competition in the history of the sport and is the most prestigious football competition in the Americas, which is one of the best places for the sport in the world.


6. Copa Libertadores


The Copa Libertadores de America is an annual international club football competition in South America. It is one of the most prestigious football club competitions in the world and the most prestigious club competition in Latin American football. It includes thirty-eight teams from eleven associations from around the world. It is hosted every year in a different Latin American country, with rounds happening for the majority of the yearlong season and the final championship happening sometime in the middle of May. The winning team of the Copa Libertadores is qualified to play in the FIFA World Cup championship.

Named after the Libertadores, the main leaders of the South American wars for independence, the cup was founded in 1960. Since it is such a prestigious event, tickets are incredibly hard to come by, as they are expensive and sell quickly, but games happen on an annual rather than a quarter-annual basis, making the chances of attending at least one game more likely and giving you plenty of chances to go or plan in advance. It is easier to go if you live in Latin America but since it is an international tournament, it is possible to make travel arrangements in advance of the final championship from wherever you live.


7. UEFA Europa League


Previously simply called the UEFA Cup, the UEFA Europa League is an annual football association club competition organized by UEFA. Founded in 1971, regional European football clubs can qualify for the competition based on their performance in their national leagues and club competitions. It is held annually with games happening all year round, with the final championship hosted by a different member European country sometime during early July. Tickets must be purchased and travel arrangements made several months in advance of the final championship, or a week in advance of a regular game. The UEFA Europa League is special because it is one of the most important and popular football tournaments in Europe, with winners being qualified for higher-ranking UEFA competitions like the Champions League or the European Championship.


8. Africa Cup of Nations

Also referred to as CAN or AFCON, the Africa Cup of Nations is the main international football association competition in Africa, which, like Latin America and Europe, is one of the most important and popular places for soccer/football in the world. The Africa Cup of Nations was founded in 1957 and is sanctioned by the Confederation of African Football, or CAF. Since 1968, it has been held every two years in June in a different African city, with winners being qualified for the FIFA World Cup championship. If you don’t live in Africa but want to attend, tickets must be purchased and travel arrangements made a year in advance. The Africa Cup of Nations is special and unique because it is the most important football competition on the continent.


9. FA Cup

bleachers-594201_1280The Football Association Challenge Cup, or the FA Cup, is an annual knockout football association competition between English men’s football teams. Unlike other prestigious or premier global soccer/football games, the FA Cup is exclusively English and follows the straight-knockout format rather than a multiple-round format. First played in 1871, it is the world’s oldest association football competition and is organized by the Football Association, England’s primary football association. It is held every year in the month of June in a different English city. Tickets are still expensive but easier to come by, since the games are annual. If you live outside of England, however, travel arrangements must be made several weeks to a few months in advance. The FA Cup is special and unique because it is the world’s oldest football competition.


10. Confederations Cup

The FIFA Confederations Cup is an international football association tournament for national teams. Founded in 1903, the Confederations Cup is held every four years from late June to early July in the same country that is hosting the World Cup that year, as the Confederations Cup acts as a prelude to the FIFA World Cup. Since this is an important event leading up to the even bigger World Cup, tickets are extremely hard to come by but can be purchased in travel packages through the FIFA website. Plan and make arrangements a couple years in advance and act fast when purchasing, as they sell out quickly. The Confederations Cup is special because it acts as a prelude to the World Cup, carrying some of its symbolic significance for peace, unity, and diversity.


11. Copa del Rey

Finally, the Copa del Rey is an annual football competition for Spanish football teams. Out of all the European countries, Spain is one of the most passionate and talented countries for football, having broken records for various European and international football championships for the most wins. Founded in 1903, and held every year in a different Spanish city during the month of June, it is the oldest Spanish football competition. Winners of the Copa del Rey qualify for the more prestigious UEFA Europa League and UEFA Champions League. Tickets and travel arrangements must be planned and purchased several weeks to a few months in advance of the competition. What makes the Copa del Rey special is that it is the oldest football competition in a country where football reigns supreme, and features the best players in not just Spanish but European and international football as well.


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