SoccerFootball, or soccer as it is known in North America, is one of the world’s most popular, accessible and attractive sports for people from all walks of life. The simplicity and beauty of the game has given way to a worldwide fan base for many different leagues and tournaments ranging from national, to regional and even worlds. The internationally recognized rules for football developed in England and are today moderated by an international football body called the International Football Association Board (IFAB). The rules of the game are collectively known as the Laws of the Game of which there are seventeen laws governing different aspects of play. Further decisions and additions are the responsibility of the IFAB. Within the IFAB, the most influential and powerful unit is the Fédération Internationale de Football Association (FIFA) which is comprised of 209 national associations.
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The international nature of football has produced a number of different leagues below the world stage. But at the world stage FIFA`s World Cup is the premier tournament pitting national teams against each other with television viewership in the hundreds of millions. The other international tournament happens at the Summer Olympics; however, national teams are currently restricted to players under 23 years of age in an attempt to maintain the amateur spirit of the Olympics. Regionally there are various football federations at the continental level. These six organizations are CONCACAF representing North America, Central America and the Caribbean (CONCACAF Gold Cup); CONMEBOL (previously South American Championship) represents South America (Copa América); UEFA for Europe (European Championship aka Euro Cup ); CAF in Africa (African Cup of Nations); AFC in Asia (Asian Cup); and OFC for Australia and the surrounding nations (OFC Nations Cup). FIFA hosts a FIFA Confederations Cup which involves the champions from each continent, the host country and the reigning FIFA World Cup champions. However, this is a less watched tournament than the World Cup and is sometimes viewed as a precursor to the World Cup, an opportunity to see how the different regions matchup before the World Cup. Then outside of international and regional competitions is some of the finest football in the world. Many of the world’s football superstars are members of clubs within one of Europe`s four major professional leagues. These leagues are England’s English Premier League, Italy`s Serie A, Spain`s Primera Division (aka La Liga) and Germany’s Bundesliga. Outside of these four, other notable but less significant leagues are North America’s Major League Soccer (MLS) and Australia’s A-League. Also of note is the UEFA Champions League which is a widely popular tournament for the best club teams from across UEFA. Next to the World Cup, many would consider this club tournament the best tournament in the world.