A Guide To Football In France

Like its other European counterparts, football is France’s most prominent and popular spectator and participatory sport. The country has been one of the most prominent players in world football for the longest time, and its international success is one of the major reasons behind its popularity in the country.

Here is a look at the history of football in France and the sport’s present status in the country. 

History of football in France

Football became popular in France in the later part of the 19th century. The national football team was formed in 1904 and played its first match against Belgium the same year, which ended in a draw. France gained early success and recognition internationally, which led to the establishment of the official football governing body, the French Football Federation (FFF), in 1919. 

In 1917, Charles Simon founded the French Cup, and in 1920, the FFF took over it. 48 teams played the first edition. France participated in the first World Cup in 1930 and hosted its first World Cup in 1938, where the national football team made it to the quarter-finals.

After losing to Brazil, the team finished third in the 1958 World Cup. It was the same event where Just Fontaine set the record for most goals scored in any world tournament. The record remained unbeaten till 2009. 

Following the 1958 World Cup, the French team could not perform well until 1998, when it hosted the World Cup, and the team won the title. Hence began the golden years of French football as the team went on to win its second European title, the UEFA Euro Championship, in 2000. The team also won two FIFA Confederation Cups in 2001 and 2003.

However, the team’s performance again declined in the following years as it exited in the knockout stage at the following World Cup. France lost in the quarter-finals of UEFA Euro 2004. France also lost in the final of the 2006 World Cup against Italy, and until 2012, the team could not get past the group stage of any tournament. In UEFA Euro 2012, France made it to the quarter-finals, and in 2018, France won the World Cup again. 

France National Football Team

The French national football team was one of the four European teams that took part in the first World Cup in 1930, and it is one of the eight teams that have won the title. As mentioned earlier, the team has brought the title home twice, in 1998 and 2018. 

When France won the Confederation Cup in 2001, it became the first national team to win the three most prestigious titles in men’s football. Brazil and Argentina joined the club after winning the Summer Olympics in 2016 and 2004, respectively. According to FIFA rankings, the French national team is currently the fourth-best team in the world.

France’s women’s national football team was not initially regarded as a prominent player, as the team struggled and failed to qualify for the first three FIFA World Cups and six UEFA European Championships. However, in 1997, the team reached the quarter-finals of the UEFA Championship and qualified for the first time for the FIFA World Cup in 2003. The team hosted the 2019 World Cup and reached the quarter-finals. 

France also has national youth football teams for under-16 and under-21 football players. 

Football league system in France

The top French professional football league is Ligue 1, which was formed by the FFF in 1932. Ligue 1 is the 5th best league in Europe after the English Premier League. The league comprises 20 clubs currently and follows a promotion and relegations system with the Ligue 2, the second-highest football league in the country. The current champions of the Ligue 1 are the OSC Lille, who won their fourth title in 2021.

Like the Ligue 1, the Ligue 2 also comprises 20 teams. It was established in 1934 and comprised 23 clubs that were categorised into two groups, Sud and Nord. The league follows a promotion and relegation system with the third top football division, the Championnat National.

The Championnat National was formed in 1993 and follows a promotional and relegation system with the Championnat National 2. Below the Championnat National 2 is the Championnat National 3 and other regional leagues at the lower levels. 

As for women, there are three divisions currently: the top most Division 1 Feminine, Division 2 Feminine, and Division 3 Feminine. These leagues are also moderated by the FFF and follow a promotion and relegations system among each other.

Can I Bet On Football In France?

In France, sports betting, including France football betting, is completely legal and has been for quite some time. The country’s online betting sector is renowned for being one of the safest in Europe, thanks to the rigorous regulations applied by the state. This legal and regulated environment ensures that bettors can engage in sports betting activities, including betting on the French football league system, with a sense of security and peace of mind.

The legal framework for sports betting in France was solidified with the acceptance of the French Gambling Act in 2010. This act legalized online sports betting, as well as online poker and horse racing, but it specifically excluded online casino games due to concerns about addiction. Since then, the country has maintained a strict process for issuing licenses to bookmakers, making it somewhat challenging for betting operators to legally offer their services in the country.

Despite these regulations, French bettors have access to a variety of sports and markets on licensed betting sites. Football is the most popular sport for betting in France, reflecting the nation’s deep passion for the game. Bettors have the opportunity to wager on a wide array of football markets from around the world, including major European competitions and, of course, the domestic French football league system.

In addition to football, other sports like horse racing and cycling are also popular betting choices among the French, with prestigious events like the Tour de France attracting significant attention. The legal betting sites in France provide competitive odds and various customer support options, including support in French, adding to the overall positive experience of sports betting in France.

For those interested in engaging in sports betting in France, it’s important to choose legal and licensed platforms to ensure a safe and fair betting experience. The most popular payment methods for online betting in France include e-wallets like Skrill and Neteller, with some people also using PayPal. Additionally, cryptocurrency has been gaining popularity as a payment method.

Overall, the environment for sports betting in France is well-regulated, providing a safe and enjoyable experience for bettors who wish to participate in this activity.

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