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There now follows a ranking of the most important men’s tournaments in the football world.
- Men’s World Cup: If we need to explain to you why the Men’s World Cup is the greatest football tournament there is, this is probably not the website for you.
- UEFA Champions League: In terms of the level of play, this is the world’s best tournament.
- Men’s European Championship: This tournament receives more attention than any other continental national team tournament.
- Copa América: The granddaddy of them all, the Copa América has been held a total of 43 times since 1916.
- African Cup of Nations: This tournament has gained popularity in recent years, as many African players have become stars in the European leagues.
- Men’s Asian Cup: Played for more than fifty years, the Men’s Asian Cup picked up global attention with Iraq’s shock win in 2007.
- Men’s Gold Cup: Only the United States and Mexico have ever won this tournament, with the exception of the bizarre 2000 tournament in which Canada advanced from the group phase on a coin flip and proceeded to win the whole thing.
- Europa League: Formerly the UEFA Cup, this tournament involves clubs that are good, but not quite as good as the Champions League teams.
- Men’s Copa Libertadores: The South American equivalent of the Champions League, it was won by Brazil’s Santos FC last year, their first title since Pelé wore their colours in the 1960s.
- Olympic men’s football tournament: Football has been played at the Olympics since the early 20th century, but originally with amateur players and today mostly with players 23 and under.
- Confederations Cup: The winners of each confederation’s national team tournaments play here. Since 2005, it has been held one year before the Men’s World Cup in the same host nation. That was a smart move, but an even smarter move would be to rename it the Marc-Vivien Foé Cup.
- Club World Cup: The winners of each confederation’s club tournaments play in this one, which results in some uneven matches in the early stages. So far, only once has a club outside of UEFA and CONMEBOL, TP Mazembe of Congo DR in 2010, reached the final.
- CAF Champions League: Africa’s top club competition. Egypt’s Al-Ahly and Zamalek have won it eleven times between them in the last thirty years.
- AFC Champions League: Asia’s top club competition. It has been held for just over 25 years, but no club has won it more than three times.
- Copa Sudamericana: South America’s equivalent of the Europa League, it is held in the second half of the calendar year [the Libertadores is in the first half]. Notably, each country decides which teams get its allocated positions, and teams from the same country are often assigned to play off against one another.
- U-20 Men’s World Cup: This is a chance to see the stars of the future; players like Leo Messi, Giovani dos Santos, and Diego Maradona first captured the world’s attention here.
- U-17 Men’s World Cup: What is the only nation to compete in this tournament all 14 times? Brazil? Argentina? Spain? No, it’s the United States, although they have made it to the semifinals only once.
- OFC Men’s Nations Cup: The championship for Oceanian national teams, it is significantly less relevant now that Australia have joined the AFC.
- CONCACAF Champions League: Unsurprisingly, Mexican teams have won this the most often, but surprisingly, only two American clubs have won it, and none since 2000. This is now CONCACAF’s only club tournament.
- Copa Centroamericana: Formerly the UNCAF Nations Cup, this is the national team championship for Central America, and a qualifying tournament for the Men’s Gold Cup.
- Gulf Cup: Held since 1970, the Gulf Cup is open to national teams from nations on or near the Arabian Peninsula. Kuwait have won it ten times.
- Men’s East Asian Cup: This tournament has been held four times, and Korea Rep and China PR have won twice each.
- Caribbean Cup: Caribbean nations play for supremacy and for a place in the Men’s Gold Cup.
- CAF Confederation Cup: Africa’s equivalent of the Europa League, this tournament involves the winners of each country’s cup competition, plus third placed teams from the top twelve nations in the CAF rankings.
- AFC Cup: The AFC has a different approach to club competitions: the top countries send their clubs to the Champions League, whilst the next highest send their clubs to this tournament. But the AFC Cup finalists are also eligible to play off for a place in the following year’s AFC Champions League.
- ASEAN Football Championship: Southeast Asian national teams compete against one another every two years or so.
- Championship of African Nations: This tournament involves national teams made up only of players who play in their own country’s domestic league.
- AFC Challenge Cup: National teams from the AFC’s list of “emerging nations”, including Afghanistan and the Philippines, participate in this tournament.
- WAFF Championship: The West Asian Football Federation hosts this tournament every two years or so, but it is more or less redundant with the Gulf Cup.
- SAFF Championship: As most South Asian nations are into cricket more than football, this is the least prestigious of Asia’s regional tournaments.
- AFC President’s Cup: Countries with leagues that aren’t good enough for the Champions League or the AFC Cup can send their clubs to this tournament. Regar TadAZ of Tajikistan have won this tournament three of the six times so far.
- OFC Champions League: Often known as the O League, the top club in Oceania isn’t even eligible – Wellington Phoenix play in Australia’s domestic league and thus would be eligible for the AFC Champions League.
- All-Africa Games men’s football tournament: Cameroon have won this tournament, which has a U-23 age limit, four times.
- Asian Games men’s football tournament: Also with a U-23 age limit, this tournament has seen Iran win four times.
- Pan American Games men’s football tournament: Held the year before the Olympics, this tournament has a U-22 age limit. Argentina have won the title six times.
- Mediterranean Games men’s football tournament: This tournament has a U-20 age limit and is available for nations on the Mediterranean Sea. In 1967, the final between Italy and France ended goalless, and instead of holding a replay [as was convention at the time], the title was shared.
- Pan Arab Games men’s football tournament: This tournament has no age limit. Disappointingly, bridge and camel racing were not held at the most recent Pan Arab Games.
- Pacific Games men’s football tournament: New Caledonia and Tahiti have been the most successful nations in Pacific Games football. The 2007 tournament was also part of the OFC’s qualifiers for the 2010 Men’s World Cup.
- Indian Ocean Island Games men’s football tournament: Last year, the Seychelles defeated Mauritius on penalties for their first title.
- Coupe de l’Outre-Mer: Places like Réunion and French Guiana are departments of France and as such are not FIFA members. This tournament, held in metropolitan France, is their chance to shine.
- Island Games men’s football tournament: There seems to be no rhyme or reason as to who is involved in this tournament: the Faroe Islands and Bermuda are FIFA members, whilst Rhodes [Greece] and the Isle of Wight [England] are part of other FIFA members.
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