Domestic football is an international phenomenon. The sport is unique in that it is followed in every corner of the globe, but that worldwide interest extends to more that just global events like the World Cup. Leagues like the EPL, Bundesliga and even MLS have dedicated supporters the world over, and they can keep up with every moment of every game thanks to global broadcasting deals and a choice of live streaming platforms.
The idea of people in far-flung nations keeping up with the most famous leagues is an attractive one. But the phenomenon works both ways. If on and off-field shenanigans from the teams and players whose bank balances look like telephone numbers leave you cold, why not explore some of the lesser-known leagues? Here are three worth following from completely different corners of the globe.
Previously known as the Tippeligaen, the Eliteserien is the top tier of Norwegian football, and it just so happens that the season is getting underway in a few short weeks. The timing couldn’t be better, with the action starting as the major European leagues draw to a close, and over the past couple of years, fans across the rest of the continent have started to take a growing interest in Eliteserian odds. Those will invariably show Rosenborg to be the club of choice among the bookmakers. The team is to Eliteserian what Juventus is to Serie A, and has lifted the trophy 26 times. Europa League followers will also be familiar with the current Eliteserian champions, Molde, who showed their class in this year’s tournament to make it through to the last 16.
J1 League (Japan)
Football in Asia is fast, frantic and furious – and nowhere more so than in Japan’s J1 league. Unlike so many leagues that are dominated by a few teams that have a realistic chance of winning, the J1 league is competitive from top to bottom. For example, in 2011 Kashiwa Reysol were promoted to the J1 league at the start of the season and went on to win it. That would be like Brentford winning the English Premier League next season, but in Japan, it’s nothing to be surprised about, such is the levelness of the playing field. Since that amazing win, Kashiwa Reysol have been relegated again and promoted again. Their next title is probably just around the corner.
Liga Dimayor (Colombia)
Everyone knows how much the South Americans love their football, and Colombia is often a popular punt in the World Cup for those who like to back a dark horse. That international talent funnels up from the Liga Dimayor, also known as the Categoría Primera A. There are 20 teams, but unlike so many leagues, the Liga Dimayor eschews the round-robin format with which we are so familiar. Instead, there are two three-stage tournaments, known as “opening and closing,” and a winner is crowned in each. It’s an intriguing format that reduces the likelihood of tournaments being decided when there are still weeks of games left to be played – perhaps the European leagues should take note.
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