Soccer tournaments take place all around the world, and with so much on the line, competition is usually at its fiercest. Instead of playing a regular season where every match might not have a ton of significance, tournament play is – win or go home.
What are the 15 best soccer tournaments in the world right now? While most people already know what number one will be on the list, 14 others grab attention in certain parts of the world.
15. Italian Cup
The Italian Cup takes place every year, and is a pretty competitive competition within the country. While the dominating club teams in the country like Juventus, Roma, Internazionale, and Lazio have all dominated historically, there have been some historic runs in the past by surprise teams as well.
It’s approaching 100 years in operation, and is a title that all of the teams take very seriously.
14. Kings Cup
The Kings Cup is a little bit different from many other soccer tournaments out there when it comes to who competes. They’ve always been able to attract some interesting teams and renowned players, but it’s a combination of countries and club sides competing.
For example, what other tournament has the Brazilian U-20 team winning one year, and Curaçao winning in another? There’s also the case in 1995 when SC Rotor Volgograd won the title as a club team.
The uniqueness of the Thailand-based tournament and how serious people take it are the main reasons it sneaks on this list.
13. AFC Asian Cup
All the senior national teams apart of the Asian Football Confederation compete once every four years to see who is the best of the best. Japan has historically been the dominating team in the tournament, but there’s been a wide variety of teams to hoist the trophies well.
In fact, the last two winners have both been first-timers, as Australia won in 2015, and Qatar won in 2019.
12. Copa del Rey
The Copa del Rey, also referred to in English as Kings Cup, is a very prestigious tournament that takes place in Spain. The top clubs in the country are all vying for a chance to compete, and they know that they have a chance to have bragging rights over everyone else.
Real Madrid, Barcelona, and Atlético Madrid obviously dominate this tournament quite a bit. However, some other clubs in Spain have competed at some point to really put it all together.
Here are all the Copa Del Rey winners by year.
11. Confederations Cup
In a lot of ways, the Confederations Cup is a test run for the World Cup. It’s held one year before the future host of the World Cup brings all the fans and teams in. It’s a way to test if everything is going smoothly, while also having some strong competition.
Another reason why it makes sense is that the World Cup host country gets a chance to go up against some of the best countries in the world to test how good they are. Obviously, if a host country is a favorite to win the World Cup, that can also add to the intrigue.
10. FIFA Club World Cup
A relatively new tournament that is picking up steam is the FIFA Club World Cup. Instead of putting countries against each other in the World Cup format, this is all about the clubs.
Getting participation from the top clubs definitely helps legitimize tournaments, but some people believe that it’s not important enough to be this high at this point.
They had some formatting issues early on, but that seems to be a thing of the past at this point. All it really needs to do is ensure that more and more people tune in and actually give it the attention it deserves. There are clubs always trying to battle to show supremacy over the others, and this is another way to make that work.
9. Africa Cup of Nations
There are some very talented teams in Africa, and they all get together to play in the Africa Cup of Nations to determine the best of the best at that time. Egypt has been the dominating country throughout the history of the tournament, but there is enough competition with several countries giving it their all.
If there is a drawback to the tournament, it’s that it usually can’t be held during a better time of the year due to weather.
Most of the time, it’s hot in January, and some of the top players currently playing for a club team in Europe don’t have the time to get away and participate. It would be nice if more of the stars were able to play, but it’s tough to justify the move.
8. FA Cup
The FA Cup is a knockout soccer tournament held exclusively in England. It goes all the way back to 1871 and is still a pretty big deal to this day. While there might be more important tournaments to win for the top clubs, having bragging rights within the country certainly helps.
One of the unique things about the tournament is that any club down to Level 10 in the English Football League system is eligible to compete.
That can sometimes create some pretty big mismatches, but that underdog feel of the tournament can sometimes make it amazing. Arsenal is the team with the most wins.
Here are all the FA Cup winners by year.
7. UEFA Europa League
No one likes to be the runner-up to anything, but the Champions League can only take so many clubs. For the next tier of competitors, the Europa League is where they face off against each other. Winning this tournament does bring a little notoriety to the table, which is always nice.
It might seem at first that the top clubs would not take the tournament seriously if they qualify. After all, they want to be the best in Europe, not the best of the rest.
However, some clubs are always willing to be at their best in any tournament out there. The only thing worse than being in the Europa League instead of the Champions League, is to have a terrible showing in the Europa League.
Here are all the Europa League winners by year.
6. Copa Libertadores
People familiar with the Champions League in Europe will know that the Copa Libertadores are the same thing in South America. It is what club teams are going for every single year in South America, and fans from all over the world will tune in with good matchups.
Obviously, this is a very big deal in South America. As more and more teams compete with the top clubs out there, it’s becoming a more competitive tournament as well. It might not have the same cachet as the Champions League in Europe, but it’s slowly growing.
5. Olympic Games
This might be a bit controversial as far as tournaments are concerned, but winning the Olympic games is still a big deal. Countries don’t always send their best players, as they usually stick with a younger squad in general, but there’s always something special about winning a gold medal in front of everyone else.
Winning an Olympic gold medal can also indicate what the future might hold for a team in World Cup competition. There have been instances where a team that is young really starts to come together in the Olympics, and that can carry over in the future.
4. Copa America
There’s something to be said for Copa America, which is the oldest continental football competition in the world. It is over 100 years old, as Argentina won the first COPA America in 1916.
Not only are all the teams from South America eligible, but they have recently started adding two other countries from Central and North America. More often than not, that means the likes of the United States, Mexico, or Costa Rica join in the mix.
Brazil and Argentina are the two dominant teams in South America, but every country feels like they have a chance when the tournament begins.
Here are all the Copa America winners by year.
3. UEFA European Championship
Just like the World Cup, the UEFA European Championship only happens once every four years. It is staggered with the World Cup, so that one or the other happens every two years.
While this is a big tournament that a lot of people pay attention to, it doesn’t have that worldwide appeal that makes so many people tune into the World Cup.
Make no mistake, everyone in Europe wants to win the European Championship. It had pretty humble beginnings in 1958, but it’s now turned into one of the best tournaments in the world.
It is usually a very competitive tournament instead of being dominated by one or two countries. As the tournament grows, expect more and more people to start paying attention even if they are outside of Europe.
Here are all the European Championship winners by year.
2. UEFA Champions League
The greatest club competition in the world is none other than the UEFA Champions League. The team that ends up hoisting the trophy at the end of the year is generally referred to as the best of the best.
Even though the tournament is limited to countries in Europe, all the best club teams are currently eligible to make it.
Only the best teams in Europe can even qualify to play in the UEFA Champions League. This is always a star-studded event, with the best teams from England, Spain, Germany, France, and any other high-level soccer league being eligible in Europe.
There are bragging rights not only for the team, but the league they represent as well.
Here are all the Champions League winners by year.
1. FIFA World Cup
The FIFA World Cup is the number one soccer tournament in the world, and it’s really not even close. It occurs once every four years, and the country winning the cup has bragging rights over the rest of the world.
It’s the most viewed sporting event in the world, and even non-soccer fans will usually tune in to watch some of the biggest matches.
It obviously trumps just about every other tournament on this list not only for the size of the tournament but also for the number of teams allowed in. Instead of being limited to a specific continent, this is a true world tournament.
Winning this means just a little bit more, and it is what every country is trying for at some point. Even just making a deep run at the World Cup or even qualifying is a huge step for a country.
Here are all the World Cup winners by year.