Understanding Football: Lesson 9 - International Play

On top of all the main domestic and continental competitions for clubs, there is the international game. The international game consist of national countries who put together a team to represent them, attempt to qualify for major tournaments, and compete on the world stage. International games are more far in between than their club counter-parts (but by no means rare) and usually take place either during the summer (June-July) or one of the 4 yearly international breaks (2 weeks in September, October, November, & March). The international breaks are used to qualify for competitions like the Euro 2016 Championship whose qualifying campaign is currently in progress. The summers usually see major tournaments such as the Gold Cup (North America's continental cup), the Confederations Cup (meeting of the World Cup winner, host nation of the next World Cup, and 6 continental cup winners), and FIFA World Cup. Players who play for a country must play for one either they were born in, maintained 5 years of residence in, or whose parents and/or grandparents were born in. Once they play in an officially competitive match for the country (such as a qualifier but not including friendlies), that player is locked into playing for that country for the rest of their career unless there is a political upheaval.

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