7 Types Of Soccer Leagues And Competitions

Soccer as a game is extremely simple to understand. However, the soccer leagues and competitions can sometimes be not so easy to comprehend.

There are many different types of professional soccer leagues and competitions everywhere, and these large numbers of different competitions can sometimes confuse people who are new to soccer.

If you’re asking, Why are there so many types of different professional soccer competitions around? The quick answer is that there are literally billions of people interested in soccer which means that the demand for soccer games is high.

In fact, there are literally hundreds of professional soccer leagues/competitions spread around most of the countries around the world, and we are going to categories most of them in this article.

There are many factors that you can use to divide the soccer leagues and competitions into different types. In this article, I will use the geographical area of the league as the main factor, and then I will further divide the competitions based on other factors.

So without further ado, here are the different types of soccer leagues and competitions that you might hear of.

1- Domestic Soccer Leagues

Domestic soccer leagues are competitions among the soccer clubs of a certain country. For example, the Premier League is England’s main domestic soccer league.

There are different types of domestic soccer leagues and competitions. Here is a list of some of them:

1.1- The First Division Leagues.

The Premier League, La Liga, Serie A, MLS, and the other main soccer leagues in a lot of different countries fall into this type of leagues.

In general, these first division leagues are the country’s biggest domestic leagues. Most of them follow the “Points format”. The teams compete against each other for the sole purpose of collecting points and reaching the top of the table.

A win gives the team 3 points, a draw gives the team 1 point, and a loss gives the team nothing.

Some of these first division leagues announce the winner as the team who has the highest number of points at the end of the season and then end the league while others go for a play-offs system at the end of the table format(Like what the MLS does for example).

If you are interested, you can learn more about the duration of these domestic leagues, and you can learn more about the playoffs in European soccer.

You can also dive here for more details about how most of the domestic soccer leagues around the world work

1.2- The Lower Division Leagues

There are a large number of soccer clubs in many countries around the world, but the spots in the first division league of each of these countries are definitely limited.

With that in mind, most countries around the world organize smaller Lower Division Leagues that are only meant to decide what teams can qualify for the first division league of the country.

These usually use the same format as the one used by the first division league.

1.3- The Cup Competitions.

There is a very large number of countries around the world that have a cup competition alongside their main domestic soccer league.

In general, the cup competition inside a country is a play-off competition. This means that the team that loses against their opponent gets out of the competition.

Usually, 2-legged matches are used in these cup competitions. You can learn more about 2 legged soccer matches here.

Also, these cup competitions usually contain teams from both the first division and the lower divisions leagues of the country.

They are meant to give the small teams a chance to express their talents against the biggest soccer teams in the same country.

2- Multinational Soccer Leagues

Multinational soccer leagues and competitions usually take place between teams from different countries.

An example can be the European club competitions. The UEFA Champions League is one of these competitions.

I think we can divide these multinational leagues into 3 different types:

2.1- Club Competitions

These are the multinational competitions that take place between soccer clubs from different countries.

The UEFA Champions League, which is currently one of the biggest soccer club competitions in the world, is one of these multinational soccer leagues.

It is a competition between the top soccer clubs from a number of the European countries. UEFA Europa League is another example of club competitions that span across multiple countries.

There are also 5 other well known international club competitions held by different soccer associations around the world.

For example, Asia has their own international club competition governed by Asia’s soccer association. It is called the AFC Champions League.

Most of these leagues start with a table system (teams are ranked based on the points that they collect). Then the teams that qualify from their tables compete against each other in knock-off games.

2.2- International Competitions

In soccer, international games are games that are held between the soccer teams of 2 different countries.

Most of the countries around the world have their own soccer team, and these teams compete against each other during the international breaks and during the off-season period of most of the domestic leagues around the world.

Take the Euros as an example. The Euros is one of the biggest international competitions that takes place between the different European nations every 4 years.

The way the Euros work is similar to the way the Champions league and other leagues work. However, one of the few differences is that the competing teams represent a country instead of being a privately owned club.

Copa America is another well known international soccer competition.

2.3- Qualifiers competitions.

Qualifiers are usually competitions between countries to win a spot in the international competitions mentioned above and the other international competitions like the World cup for example.

The sole purpose of these qualifier leagues/competitions is to determine what countries are going to participate in the upcoming big international competitions.

3- World Wide Soccer Leagues and Competitions

As you may have guessed already. The world wide soccer competitions are competitions that take place among teams from all over the globe.

The World cup is one of these competitions. The world cup is arguably the biggest sports event in the world. It is a soccer competition held every 4 years between 32 countries from all over the world.

As mentioned before, these teams are picked based on the Qualifier competitions. However, the hosting country automatically qualifies for the world cup that is going to take place on its lands.

Winning the world cup is a dream for almost every soccer player and it is considered to be the most prestigious soccer competition in the history of the game.

There is also a world cup competition for soccer clubs. The winners from the 6 international club competitions and the champion of the host country compete against each other to grab the Clubs World Cup title.

However, the Clubs World Cup competition isn’t very popular among soccer fans since it isn’t very competitive. 

In most of the cases, the winner of the UEFA champions league will be the team to secure the victory during the clubs world cup because most of the big soccer clubs around the world are originated in Europe


So there you have it. The league types mentioned above are the ones that you need to know about as a new soccer fan.

There are a lot more types of soccer competitions. However, the ones mentioned above are the most popular and are the ones that most of the soccer fans look forward to.