Football is not only one of the world’s most recognised game but also the most watched sports in the world and triggers emotion and passion inside a fan which only a few sports can replicate. The world of football lights up, with its enormous variety of tournaments and prizes.
Keeping aside the wide offerings of domestic leagues, we bring you the list of some of the top 10 best football tournaments which take place, each with its uniqueness and importance. All around the globe, domestic cup competitions compete in international tournaments to prove their mettle.
So, without further ado, let us now begin with the list of some awesome football tournaments which will leave you on the edge of your seat and give you and your favourite team bragging rights.
What Are The Most Popular Football Tournaments In The World?
Most of the football tournaments listed below take place every year and have different requirements for a team to be qualified to play in it, from the European Championship to UEFA Champions League to the god of all football tournaments, the FIFA World Cup, we have the list ready for you.
1. FIFA World Cup
In the world of Football, there is no greatest, prestigious and glorious tournament than the FIFA World Cup wherein FIFA stands for Fédération Internationale de Football Association and takes place every 4 years and the international teams from all over the globe try to make it in.
The first FIFA World Cup took places in 1930 and has taken places every 4th year since then with the only exception break taken during the World War II.
Brazil is the undisputed king of the FIFA World Cup as they have played in 21 FIFA World Cups and not only played in 7 Finals out of those but have also registered the most number of title wins with 5.
Just Fontaine, the French footballer, is the most successful goalscorer in the history of the FIFA World Cup who holds the record for most goals in a single tournament with 13 in the 1950 World Cup. To give it some perspective, the great Brazilian footballer Ronaldo scored 18 goals in 4 World Cups he played.
2. UEFA European Championship
One of the most famous football tournaments in the world is the UEFA European Championship which, just like the FIFA World Cup, takes places every 4 years. Commonly known as the EURO (not to be confused with European Cup) has existed since 1960.
As the name suggests, only European teams take part in the prestigious competition.
This tournament, too, is competed by the national teams and has grown from 4 teams participating to 24. The 2020 UEFA EURO was scheduled to take place in 11 cities of the 11 UEFA host countries but was postponed due to the global pandemic induced by the Coronavirus. It will now take place between 11th June and 11th July 2021.
In the history of this tournament, Germany and Spain have been the most successful sides with Germany playing 12 UEFA EUROs, reaching 6 finals and winning 3 of them. Spain on the other hand, is the king of this tournament on ratio, playing 10 times, reaching the final 4 times and winning the tournament on 3 occasions.
The 2016 UEFA EURO was won by Portugal, defeating France 1-0 and we all remember Cristiano Ronaldo playing a huge role in it, both on and off field.
Michel Platini (9 goals) and Christiano Ronaldo (9 goals) have the most goals to their names in this tournament, which may change very soon.
3. America’s Cup
Copa América is a South American football championship that has been in the playing since the year 1916, making it one of the oldest football tournaments for the national team in the world. If we take a look at the history of this tournament you will notice a lack of continuity marked by several irregularities and big gaps between successive tournaments.
Copa América, is participated by all 100 countries of Conmebol and until 1975, was known as the South American Football Championship. Since the 1990s teams from North and Central America as well as Asia have been invited to join the 12-team tournament.
Mexico joined the tournament in 1993.
Uruguay and Argentina have been the most successful sides in Copa América have played 44 and 42 times in the competition and winning it 14 and 14 times respectively. A fun fact on the side which not many would know is that Ecuador is the nation with the most participation (28) without a title to their name.
4. AFC Asian Cup
One of the best football competitions in the World to follow is the AFC Asian Cup which is governed by the Asian Football Confederation. AFC is one of the 6 Confederations within FIFA. AFC Asian Cup is a continental football championship which first took place in 1956 and has been organised since.
AFC Asian Cup all teams of the Asian confederation. Until 2015, the winner of the AFC Asian Cup automatically got qualified for the FIFA Confederations Cup but this competition was abolished in 2019. This tournament takes place once every 4 years and it was only in 2007 that it took place after 3 years and the only time 4 nations co-hosted it.
Japan, Saudi Arabia and Iran have been the most successful national teams in this competition having won the title 4, 3 and 3 times respectively. Saudi Arabia has also been runner-ups of the AFC Asian Cup on 3 occasions.
5. FIFA Club World Cup
FIFA Club World Cup is held every year by the Fédération Internationale de Football Association and began in 2000. However, it did not take place for 4 years, from 2001 to 2004 owing to a number of factors, most importantly the collapse of FIFA’s marketing partner International Sport and Leisure (ISL).
Having said this, since 2005, it has taken place every year and the 2021’s tournament will be hosted by Japan, which also hosted the competition 4 years in succession from 2005 to 2008. Spain is the leader in this tournament with teams from this country winning the tournament title a staggering 7 times.
Real Madrid has won the FIFA Club World Cup 4 times while Barcelona, another team from Spain has won it 3 times. The 2020 FIFA Club World Cup was won by Bayern Munich from Germany.
6. UEFA Champions League
The UEFA Champions League is the epitome when it comes to prestigious tournaments for European Football clubs. One of the best football tournaments in the world has existed since season 1992-1993.
We can say UEFA Champions League started back in the season 1955-1956 if its predecessor European Cup is counted.
The top 4 teams from the 8 top European leagues including La Liga, EPL, Bundesliga, and Serie A qualify for the tournament along with the winner of the previous season of the tournament.
In the recent time, Champions League has gained even more popularity with the introduction of a mini-league group stage system which closely resembles the FIFA World Cup with an early phase of group play followed by a knockout phase.
Since the inception of this tournament, Real Madrid has been the most successful side with winning 7 titles while Barcelona and Bayern Munich have won 4 titles each. Bayern also won the 2019-20 season of the UEFA Champions League.
Having said this, the undisputed king of the tournament on the player level is Cristiano Ronaldo who has scored 134 goals (excluding qualifiers). Also, in the 2013-14 season, Cristiano Ronaldo (Real Madrid) broke the record and became the player with the most goals in a single season (group stage to finals) as he scored 17 goals.
7. UEFA Europa League
The EUFA Europa League also known as the UEL is now the second-tier competition of the European club football which ranks right after UEFA Champions League but above UEFA Europa Conference League. Previously known as the UEFA Cup it has been known as Europa League since 2009-10 season and takes place every year.
How the teams qualify to participate in UEL is a little tricky as typically the teams qualifying for this tournament are those in the highest places but did not make it to the UEFA Champions League, however, many countries send in other teams, for example, the Belgian League awards one place to the winner of First A and First B teams.
In the history of this tournament, Spain has been the most successful side, with Spanish Clubs winning the titles on 12 occasions. In total 28 football clubs have won the UEL, 13 of which have more than once.
Sevilla is not only the current winners of UEL but also the most successful club in this tournament, winning it 6 times in total.
8. FA Cup
The FA Cup, which stands for the Football Association Challenge Cup is the oldest football competition in the world. It is the oldest amongst all the tournament as well as the leagues which still exist today. The first edition of the FA Cup was played in the 1871-72 season and is played every year since then which the only exception coming in during the interruptions caused by WW I and WW II.
Please mind that FA Cup is different from FA Trophy which is a semi-professional competition. It is a 150 year old competition which has been played by 736 teams in total since it was founded. Though the current FA Cup champions are Leicester City who beat Chelsea 1-0 in the 2021 final.
Having said that, Arsenal has been the most successful club in this competition with 14 titles to their name.
The team which win this competition not only secures a place in the FA Community Shield but also qualifies for the prestigious UEFA Europa League.
9. King’s Cup
The Campeonato de España–Copa de Su Majestad el Rey, commonly known as Copa del Rey or simply La Copa was founded in the year 1903 and is not only one of the most famous football tournament in the world but also one of the oldest Spanish football competition.
Copa del Rey is considered to be one of the most prestigious national cup trophies in the world and the winner of this competition qualifies for the UEFA Europa League, about which we talked in the list above.
Since this competition was founded, a total of 126 teams have participated and a number of which have already disbanded. The winner of Copa del Rey also plays against the winner of La Liga in the Spanish Super Cup (The Supercopa de España).
In the history of this tournament, Barcelona has been the most successful side, winning 31 titles so far and are also the current title holder when they defeated Athletic Bilbao 4-0 where Lionel Messi scored 2 goals in quick succession.
10. Italian Cup
Coppa Italia translates to Italy Cup and is the Italian football annual cup competition which was founded In 1922 (99 years ago) and since then has been played by 78 teams in total.
Coppa Italia takes every year, however, due to World War II, it was interrupted after the 1942-43 season and did not resume until 1958, since then, the competition has not been interrupted. The winner of Coppa Italia secures a position for the UEFA Europa League, however, if the team has already qualified for UEFA Champions League then the place goes to the next highest ranked team in the league table i.e. Serie A.
The winner of Coppa Italia also faces the winner of Serie A in the Supercoppa Italiana (Italian Super Cup.
Interestingly, both Supercoppa Italiana and Coppa Italia are dominated by Juventus winning 9 and 14 titles respectively. Juventus also holds the record of contesting in the most number of finals in Coppa Italia with 20.
Juventus won the 2021 Coppa Italia against Atalanta with the final score of 2-1.
With this we conclude our list of 10 Best Football Tournaments in the world which you should be following to stay entertained. These tournaments bring together the best teams, both national and league, to prove they are the best in the world, leaving fans with matches where they cannot even blink their eyes.
How many of these do you already follow? Is there any competition or tournament which should be on the list? Make your case down in comments, you never know, we might add it to the list if you make a compelling case.
Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)
Question 1: What are the major football tournaments?
Answer 1: There are more than 30 football tournaments, however, we have made the list of the 10 best, from FIFA World Cup to UEFA Champions League to Copa del Rey most of which take place every year.
Question 2: What is the most prestigious cup in soccer?
Answer 2: FIFA World Cup is hands down the most prestigious cup in soccer wherein multiple national teams compete against each other to prove they are the best in the world. However, we have also the list of European and National cups.
Question 3: Which is the oldest football tournament?
Answer 3: Copa América, Cope del Rey, FA Cup are amongst the oldest football tournaments in the world with FA Cup being first played in the 1871-72 season. To give you some perspective, the English Premier League was founded in 1992.