Football (soccer) leagues

In the United Kingdom, where football games take precedent over everything except football scandals, the various leagues and titles can seem more confusing than is worth pondering. Why does national icon David Beckham play for a Spanish team, and when West Brom plays Man U, what’s at stake? You never know.

Starting from the bottom, here’s how it works, according to regional Football Association secretary Martin Head. Just above the club level of a local pub team is the Conference league, which semi-employs semi-pro players in small towns and cities. Moving up from there is the Championship league, including teams such as Ipswich and Norwich City, and its two lower divisions. The best teams from the Championship move up to the big time, the Premiership, where Chelsea, Man U., Arsenal and the like slug it out on national TV. Teams play within their leagues normally, but everyone — from Mildenhall to Arsenal — compete for the FA Cup, the national championship.

Then, from there, the best teams in the Premiership also play in the Union of European Football Association’s Champions League, where the top teams from each country — Real Madrid, Bayern, Arsenal and the like — play. Each team here can recruit players from all over Europe — hence Beck’s in Madrid. Lastly, the best players from each nation play for their country in the World Cup.

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