GSN and Football Institutions

Spain wins 2010 FIFA World Cup

Which Football tournaments do we track? Which are the top competitions and the governing bodies of football worldwide? Who are the most winning nations in the game? Find out all about the greatest game in the world, including quirky stats, the history of football from the ancient Mayas to Renaissance Florence, football’s iconic stadia and all about football equipment: lace up and bend it!

Of the hundreds of football competitions around the globe, we have decided to track the most prestigious international ones. The FIFA World Cup, held every four years, is the sport’s top tournament and arguably the most followed sporting event on the planet. GSN also tracks the four/two yearly continental tournaments awarding the title of African, European, Asian, South American, Central-North American and Australasian champion. And if you want more stats, go to "Football Numbers".

Football Organization and Competitions
Football is organized internationally by FIFA, the organism which groups together all the individual Football Associations/Federations of the planet. FIFA (the acronym stands for Fédération Internationale de Football Associations, a neat French-English mix) is an association governed by Swiss law with headquarters in Zurich, founded in 1904 and comprising 208 member associations. It is a very strong organization with a hold on most aspects of the game: besides the sport and its intercontinental tournaments, from men to women, from senior to youth, FIFA controls referees, has rules about agents, and oversees the game’s rules and regulations. It is a tough job given the astonishing worldwide diffusion of football. In the “Big Count 2006” census, conducted across all the FIFA member nations, some truly exceptional numbers were revealed:
  • 265.000.000 registered youth to senior, male and female football (and futsal and beach soccer) players
  • 5.000.000 referees
  • over 42.000 registered football clubs in England alone, the highest national total by a fair margin, second being Brazil with 29.000, third Germany with 26.000.
FIFA is a complex hierarchical organization, not least in its geographical subdivision. Each continent, or part of, has its own regional association (confederation) which comprises the national football federations of the continent. Thus we have UEFA for Europe, AFC for Asia, CAF for Africa, CONCACAF for North, Central America and the Caribbean, CSF for South America and OFC for Oceania.
Each confederation holds a regional tournament every 4 years (2 years for Africa) and the winners, plus the reigning World Champion, compete in the 4-yearly Confederations Cup. Its 2009 edition will be played in South Africa and feature the hosts , World Champion Italy, plus Brazil, Spain, Egypt, Iraq, New Zealand and the USA.
One of the beauties of international football is that the same ramified organization that exists at the senior professional level also exists at the youth level. Thus, again under the auspices of FIFA, there are 4-yearly World Under 17 and Under 20 Championships, and the correspondent regional youth competitions in Europe, Asia, Africa etc.