Soccer: National Champions from a Different Country

FIFA, the organization that oversees the worldwide organization and development of the sport of soccer, generally mandates that clubs only be allowed to participate in leagues and cups that are run by their own countries. However, several exceptions to this rule exist. For example, six Welsh clubs play in the English system, three Canadian teams play in Major League Soccer, an otherwise U.S.-based competition, and, perhaps most famously, one of the most known and powerful clubs in the French system is AS Monaco. Interestingly, some of these teams have even won competitions while playing in a different country’s league or cup.

The latter example is probably the best one as Monaco has claimed France’s Ligue 1 title on eight occasions, including as recently as the 2016-17 season, while the team has also won the Coupe de France five times.

Another example is The New Saints, which plays in the Welsh system despite being located in Oswestry, England, 4 miles to the east of the England-Wales border. TNS has lifted the Welsh Premier League trophy on 12 occasions, including every year from the 2011-12 to 2017-18 seasons.

Across the Irish Sea, Derry City has proved to be an accomplished club while participating in the Republic of Ireland system even though it plays its home matches in Northern Ireland, 5 miles from the border between the countries. The Candystripes won the League of Ireland Premier Division in 1988-89 and 1996-97 and claimed the FAI Cup in 1989, 1995, 2002, 2006 and 2012.

In North America, Toronto FC won the MLS Cup in 2017, becoming the first and only non-U.S. club to do so.

Another interesting example occurred in Singapore’s FAS Premier League in 1994 when Australia’s Perth Kangaroos had been invited to participate in the league along with the Darwin Cubs from the Northern Territory. The Western Australia side won the competition in its only season of play after all players from Singapore’s national team were removed from the league as a result of it no longer being a Singapore-only competition.