In 2018, the largest soccer tournament in the world will take place across Russia. The FIFA World Cup is the pinnacle of international competition, but it's not the only one. Let's learn about the World Cup, but also about some of the other international competitions that take place year to year.
The Fédération Internationale de Football Association (FIFA) is the head soccer organization of the world that governs rules for soccer competitions. It consists of representatives from each country with a FIFA recognized national club. FIFA is also the organization that chooses what nations will host the World Cup. FIFA has recently been rocked with multiple bribery and fraud scandals, with many members of the organization being arrested by the United States in 2015.
Organized by FIFA and held every 4 years at a chosen location, the World Cup is the world's most watched sporting event and determines the international soccer champion. Currently, 32 national teams participate (the host country & 31 qualifiers), but FIFA has approved changing the format to allow 64 participating teams. There is a FIFA sanctioned qualification process separate from the below competitions for the World Cup. In 2018, the competition will be held in Russia. In 2022, the competition will be held in Qatar.
The Gold Cup is a tournament held every other year between top North American National Teams to determine the North American Champion. There has been only one year that the winner of the tournament was not either Mexico or the United States.
The Confederations Cup is a tournament held every year prior to the World Cup with the reigning continental champions. It is hosted in the World Cup hosting country as a sort of trail run for the competition.
The UEFA European Championship is an international tournament held every 4 years in the even year before a World Cup to determine the European Champion. This is not to be confused with the UEFA Champions League, an annual competition of the best professional clubs in Europe.
A tournament held every other year between top African National Teams to determine the African Champion.
A tournament held every 4 years to determine the South American Champion, even though teams from outside the region are routinely invited. The 2015 edition of the tournament was hosted by the United States and included the American and Mexican national teams.