Day 77 of 98 – The Soccer Part 1: Soccer Rules!

6 Dec

I think I have to write this part with soccer as the reference point, otherwise it’s just too messy. I’ll explain the differences with North American sports in part three. Aside: while writing this, it occurred to me that the Europeans have put way more thought into “soccer” than how they run their economy. The soccer system is not without its problems, but let’s save that revolution for part three.

There are city teams and national teams.

The city teams are made up of players from all over the place while the national teams are almost exclusively composed of players with citizenship or citizenship eligibility of that country.

There are league games and tournament games.

Most countries have national leagues and the teams in these leagues are from cities within that county. In league games they play against each other (i.e. Berlin FC vs. Munich FC). Each country can have many different leagues (also called divisions). The individual nations have their own nomenclature but basically its first division with the best teams then, second division, third division, etc. Some of the crazier soccer-crazy countries have almost fifteen divisions.

The big European soccer tournament is the UEFA Champions League where the best city teams from the different national leagues play against each other (i.e. Berlin FC vs. Paris FC).

There are continental tournaments (Asia, Africa, South America, Europe, Oceanland, North America) for the national teams from each region. These are all held every two three or four years. They don’t just let every team in, each country has to qualify.

And of course there is the World Cup held every four years just a couple of months after the Winter Olympics.

Who are the winners and how is it decided who are the winners?

  • There are no playoffs in the national leagues – the team with the most points at the end of the season is the champion. This is boring.
  • The teams at the bottom of the standings get demoted to the next lower division. This is the opposite of boring.
  • The top teams in each league get promoted to the next higher division, also not boring
  • except in the first division where the top teams get invited to play in the UEFA Champions League tournament

The Champions League is decided by a round-robin group stage followed by a playoff. International tournaments are the same. Teams are placed into groups and the top two teams in each group move on to the elimination round.

The fall, winter, and summer

  • The national league city team games are played on Sunday in afternoon time slots (similar to NFL Football).
  • UEFA games are played midweek approximately every three weeks.
  • Qualifying games for international tournaments are also played midweek every couple of months or so.

The summer

The summer is reserved for the big international tournaments.

Number of games in a season

The national leagues play once a week from September until about May. I hope they get Christmas off.

The games

Soccer has ties, unless it’s an elimination game where they go into overtime (not sudden-death) and then penalty kicks if it’s still tied.

Sometimes they have these home / away two-game mini-tournaments where any ties are decided by which team had more away goals. This is kinda cool.

Game Duration

The games are always of a fixed length 45 min. – 15 min. intermission – 45 min.

  • 105 – 115 minutes for a regulation game
  • 145 – 155 minutes for an overtime game – two 15-minute overtime halves
  • You can add another 15 minutes on if penally kicks are required.
  • At the end of each half the referee will add some “penalty time” if there were any stoppages

Player selection

There’s no draft. Teams can pretty much sign whomever they want.

Where they make their money

The teams make their money from TV broadcasts and at the gate (tickets sold at the stadium).

The rules

The rules appear to be difficult to change. It’s unclear to me how they would be able to do this with so many different leagues and association. There is no video replay.

The visiting team’s supporters

In some stadiums these guys are given a dedicated section as well as their own entrance, concession stands and washrooms. This is to reduce the likelihood of violence between the fans.


My apologies for all that, but it’s needed for the second and third parts to make any sense.

Photo Caption

2 Responses to “Day 77 of 98 – The Soccer Part 1: Soccer Rules!”

  1. loosy December 7, 2011 at 10:03 #

    One correction (sorry) – the league games aren’t just played on Sunday afternoons. There are a few games on Friday night, the majority takes place Saturday afternoon (making the broadcast/summary on TV and radio the most successful shows on air, respectively) and then there are few (2?) on Sundays.

    • Die Hard Three December 7, 2011 at 10:17 #

      Thank you for the correction. I’m surprised there was only one error! 🙂

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: