The great competitions


    League 1

    The French league championship dates back to 1933. It takes place annually and is organised into several divisions: League 1, League 2, and the National. League 1 represents the pinnacle of French football, and features 20 clubs. Each team plays all of the others, in two-leg ties.

    League 2

    France's League 2 championship is the second division of French professional football. It is organised by the professional football league. The top three teams are promoted to League 1, while the three bottom-placed teams of League 1 are relegate to League 2

    The Coupe de France

    The French Cup is a knock-out championship organised by the French Football Federation. It is open to both amateur and professional clubs. The winner contests the UEFA Champions League the following year.

    The French game is characterised by its imaginative attack and technique, with trainers like Aimé Jacquet, Gérard Houllier et Guy Roux, who have founded training centres for young players.

    The UEFA Champions League

    Founded as the European Cup in 1955, the Champions League in its current form was established in 1992, and is perhaps the most prestigious of all club championships. Competition takes place throughout the football season, with Europe's best teams and some of the world's best players taking part.

    UEFA Europa League (formerly the UEFA Cup)

    In 1955, the Inter-Cities Fairs Cup was founded, becoming the UEFA Cup in 1971. At that time, teams were qualified according to their classification in national championships. In 1999, this competition was merged with the UEFA Cup-Winners' Cup and opened up to both winners of national championships and those clubs who finished their championships directly behind teams taking part in the Champions' League. In 2009-2010, the UEFA Cup became the Europa League, enlarging its preliminary stages and reducing its group stage to 48 teams playing two-leg ties.

    The UEFA Euro

    With over 50 countries participating in qualification and the best European teams going head-to-head for first place, the UEFA European Championship, organised once every four years, comes second only to the World Cup in popularity and prestige. The first tournament took place in 1960, with only four teams in the final stages.

    The participating teams compete for the Henri-Delaunay cup, named after the former general secretary of the Union of European Football Associations (UEFA), founded in 1954.
    One of the biggest surprises in the Euro was Denmark's victory in 1992, beating Germany 2.0 thanks to goals from John Jensen and Kim Vilfort. The Danes, who had failed to qualify for the championship, were only brought into the competition when civil war forced Yugoslavia to withdraw.

    World Cup

    For many, the World Cup is the greatest sporting event on the planet. Every four years, it brings together the greatest international teams, following three years of qualification rounds. The current World Cup trophy was awarded for the first time in 1974. It replaced the Jules Rimet trophy, which Brazil won the right to keep after its third victory in 1970. Its base bears the names of all of the winners since 1974.

    Among the great goals scored at the World Cup, some stand out:

    The unstoppable volley by 17-year-old Brazilian Pelé, against Sweden in 1958.
    Dutchman Aire Haan's 40-metre shot against Italy in 1978.
    At the 1986 World Cup, Argentina's Diego Maradona dribbled for 50 metres, passing four English defenders and scoring what in 2002 was judged the best goal in World Cup history.
    At the 1970 World Cup final, 9 Brazilians passed the ball the whole length of the pitch, and, following a pass from Pelé, defender Carlos Alberto scored from the corner of the penalty area.