List of association football clubs playing in the league of another country
There are a number of association football clubs around the world that are based in one country/territory but play in another's league. Conditions for competing in a "foreign" league, as well as in a continental/confederational competition, are set case-by-case by the international association football federation as well as the respective confederation and national association football associations involved. Clubs which are located in defunct nations that merged with others, new nations separated from others, or which stopped competing in a nation's league system because their locale was transferred to another nation, are not included in this article.
- 1 Britain and Ireland
- 2 Continental Europe
- 2.1 Andorra / Spain
- 2.2 Austria / Germany
- 2.3 Bosnia and Herzegovina / FR Yugoslavia
- 2.4 Cyprus / Greece
- 2.5 Finland / Sweden
- 2.6 Georgia / Soviet Union
- 2.7 Germany / Switzerland
- 2.8 Italy / Switzerland
- 2.9 Kosovo / Serbia
- 2.10 Liechtenstein / Switzerland
- 2.11 Monaco / France
- 2.12 San Marino / Italy
- 2.13 Spain / France
- 2.14 Ukraine / Russia
- 3 Africa
- 4 Americas
- 5 Asia & Oceania
- 6 References
Britain and Ireland
As a result of the history of football in the United Kingdom, the United Kingdom has four FIFA member countries instead of one. Therefore, clubs that play outside what would be regarded as their 'home country' are included.
England / Scotland
- Berwick Rangers play in the Scottish football league system (Scottish League Two as of 2015–16).
- Tweedmouth Rangers joined tier 6 of the Scottish football league system which is the East of Scotland Football League in 2016 from the North Northumberland League.
- Gretna played in the English football league system until 2002 when they were elected to the Scottish Football League. They folded in 2008, and their successor club Gretna 2008 continue to play in the Scottish football league system.
- Annan Athletic played in the English football league system from 1952 (when they joined the Carlisle and District League and the Cumberland Football Association) to 1977.
- There have been proposals for Celtic and Rangers to play in the English leagues, but these were never acted upon.
England / Wales
- The New Saints (formerly Total Network Solutions), one of only two fully professional clubs in the Welsh Premier League, represents both the Welsh village of Llansantffraid-ym-Mechain and the English town of Oswestry (the two places are 8 miles/13 km apart), since its merger in 2003 with financially troubled Oswestry Town, an English club which played in the Welsh football structure. Since the 2007–08 season, they have played in Oswestry, while previously playing in Llansantffraid-ym-Mechain. As regular contenders to the Welsh Premier League title and Welsh Cup, The New Saints have represented Wales in European competitions.
- Newcastle A.F.C. from Newcastle, Shropshire play in the Welsh football league system (Mid Wales South League).
- Bucknell F.C. from Bucknell, Shropshire played in the Welsh football league system (Mid Wales South League) until the 2014–15 season.
- Trefonen F.C. play in the Welsh football league system (Montgomeryshire League).
- Morda United did play in the Mid Wales Football League, but moved to the West Midlands (Regional) League (in the English football league system) in 1994. The club return but to the Montgomeryshire League in the 2014–15 season.
- Bishop's Castle Town did play in the Montgomeryshire League, but moved to the Shropshire County League (in the English football league system) in 2010. The club return to the Montgomeryshire League in the 2016–17 season.
- Cardiff City play in the Premier League
- Swansea City play in the Championship
- Newport County play in League Two
- Wrexham play in the National League
- Colwyn Bay play in the Northern Premier League Division One North
- Merthyr Town play in the Southern Football League Premier Division
- In addition, Deva Stadium, home to Chester and previously to the defunct Chester City, straddles the England–Wales border, and its entire pitch is in Wales (though the club offices, which are part of the stadium complex, are in England).
Although all the above clubs play in the English football league system and are allowed to compete in the FA Cup, Wrexham, Colwyn Bay and Merthyr Town are under the jurisdiction of the Football Association of Wales for disciplinary and administration purposes. Swansea City, Cardiff City and Newport County previously had the same governance until an arrangement was made with the FA for the 2011–12 season onwards which sees Welsh clubs playing in the top four divisions of English football under the governance of the FA.
Cardiff City (1921–29, 1952–57, 1960–62, 2013–14 and 2018-) and Swansea City (1981–83 and 2011–18) have played in the top division of English football (currently the Premier League). Cardiff City are also the only non-English side to have won the FA Cup, winning it in 1927; they again reached the final in 2008, prompting the English FA to change the rules to allow Welsh clubs to represent England in UEFA competitions should they qualify to do so. Swansea City won the 2012–13 Football League Cup, and are the first Wales-based club to qualify for a European competition through a place reserved for the English Football Association.
The following Welsh clubs have also played in the English football league system:
The following defunct Welsh clubs also played in the English league system:
Until 1995, the above clubs were allowed to participate in the Welsh Cup, and represented Wales in the Cup Winners' Cup if they won. Clubs playing in those parts of England close to the Welsh border could also play in the Welsh Cup by invitation, but could not represent Wales if they won.
Northern Ireland / Republic of Ireland
- Two different clubs bearing the name Derry City have played in the Republic of Ireland football league system:
- The original club, founded in 1928, played in the Northern Ireland football league system until 1972, when it was expelled from the Irish Football League due to issues related to The Troubles. The club then spent 13 years without a league until being admitted to the second level of the League of Ireland in 1985. Two years later, they earned promotion to the League of Ireland's first level, and continued there until their expulsion in 2009 for financial mismanagement. The club was dissolved shortly thereafter.
- A new Derry City club, which considers itself to be a continuation of the original, was founded in January 2010, and was admitted to the second level of the League of Ireland starting with the 2010 season. They returned to the top flight at the first opportunity by winning the First Division title.
Derry City have won the league titles of both Northern Ireland (1964–65) and the Republic of Ireland (1988–89, 1996–97), and also the cup titles of both Northern Ireland (1948–49, 1953–54, 1963–64) and the Republic of Ireland (1988–89, 1994–95, 2002, 2006, 2012), and have represented both Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland in European club competitions.
Guernsey / England
Andorra / Spain
Austria / Germany
- SV Kleinwalsertal has played in Germany since the 1960s, playing in the tier ten A-Klasse Allgäu 4 in 2016–17.
Bosnia and Herzegovina / FR Yugoslavia
- FK Borac Banja Luka played in the FR Yugoslav football league system. Technically, the club stayed Yugoslav and continued to participate in Yugoslav competition until 1995, despite Bosnia and Herzegovina having been recognised as independent in 1992.
Cyprus / Greece
- Olympiakos Nicosia played in Greece in 1967–68, 1969–70, and 1971–72.
- AEL Limassol played in Greece in 1968–69.
- EPA Larnaca FC played in Greece in 1970–71.
- AC Omonia played in Greece in 1972–73.
- APOEL F.C. played in Greece in 1973–74.
Finland / Sweden
- IF Fram 1999–2011 and possibly earlier
- IF Östernäskamraterna 2004–2007
- Eckerö IF 2005–2009
- Jomala IK 2000–2005 and possibly earlier
- IF Finströms Kamraterna 2002–2003
- IF Start 2004
- Lemlands IF 2011– still plays in Swedish league system (Division 6, Uppland östra (Tier 8))
- Hammarlands IK 2014– still plays in Swedish league system (Division 7, Uppland östra (Tier 9))
All clubs are based in the Åland Islands, an autonomous region of Finland with an indigenous ethnic Swedish population.
Georgia / Soviet Union
- FC Dinamo Sukhumi played in the Soviet football league system. Technically, the club stayed Soviet and continued to participate in Soviet competition. Concurrently, in Georgia was conducted separate championship and some former footballers from Dynamo Sukhumi created FC Tskhumi in Tbilisi.
Germany / Switzerland
- FC Büsingen play in the Swiss football league system (3. Liga - Group 5), as Büsingen am Hochrhein is a German exclave surrounded by Switzerland.
Italy / Switzerland
- AP Campionese play in the Swiss football league system (5. Liga - Group 1), as Campione d'Italia is an Italian exclave surrounded by Switzerland.
- FC Chiasso played in the Italian league system between 1914 and 1923.
Kosovo / Serbia
→ : Kosovar in Serbia
Kosovo is still only a partially recognised state and the government of Serbia still claims the territory as its own. Due to Serbian refusal of Kosovo institutions, Serbs in North Kosovo act independently in sport. For example, the Football First League of North Kosovo was primarily formed of Serbian clubs from four of North Kosovo's municipalities. Both governments agreed upon creating a Community of Serb Municipalities.
From 2010 to 2015, the Football First League of North Kosovo was the top football regional league in North Kosovo, ranked fifth in the Serbian league system. The league was formed primarely of Serbian football clubs that come from four of North Kosovo's municipalities such as Leposavić, Zvečan, Zubin Potok and Northern Kosovska Mitrovica. The league was formed in protest to the establishment of the Kosovo Super League by the Republic of Kosovo; the Serbian clubs from North Kosovo refuse to enter the Republic of Kosovo's institutions as per the Assembly of the Community of Municipalities of the Autonomous Province of Kosovo and Metohija.
- FK Ibar Leposavić
- FK Kopaonik Lešak
- FK Moša Banje
- FK Rudar Kosovska Mitrovica
- FK Zvečan
- FK Radnik Prilužje (until 2013)
- FK Sočanica (until 2014)
There are two other clubs from North Kosovo, which compete in different leagues:
Liechtenstein / Switzerland
- FC Balzers
- USV Eschen/Mauren
- FC Ruggell
- FC Schaan
- FC Triesen
- FC Triesenberg
- FC Vaduz (currently playing in the second-level Swiss Challenge League. Vaduz has had two stints in the top flight, the Swiss Super League, the first in the 2008–09 season and the second running from 2014–15 through 2016–17. They are the only Liechtenstein club to have ever played in the top level of Swiss football.)
All clubs in Liechtenstein play in the Swiss football league system, as Liechtenstein has no properly recognized league of its own. These clubs also compete in the Liechtenstein Football Cup, which is effectively the championship of Liechtenstein, with the winner representing Liechtenstein in the UEFA Europa League. Liechtenstein clubs do not play in the Swiss Cup, and are not eligible for qualification to European competitions via the Swiss league system.
Monaco / France
- AS Monaco FC play in the French football league system (Ligue 1 since 2013-2014), as Monaco does not have a professional league. They are one of the most successful clubs in France having won eight Ligue 1, five Coupe de France and one Coupe de la Ligue titles, and have also represented France in European competitions, reaching the final of the now-defunct UEFA Cup Winners' Cup in 1992 and of the UEFA Champions League in 2004.
San Marino / Italy
- San Marino Calcio play in the Italian football league system (Serie D as of 2015–16).
- A.C. Juvenes/Dogana played in both the Campionato Sammarinese di Calcio and the Italian amateur levels until the 2006–07 season. Now they play only in the Sammarinese league. Juvenes/Dogana was founded in 2000 after the merger of S.S. Juvenes and G.S. Dogana: both clubs played in Italy at the time of the merger.
The home league of San Marino was established only in 1985. Before that year, other Sammarinese teams have competed in the Italian system, though only San Marino Calcio is allowed to take part in the system and also to Coppa Italia exclusively:
- S.P. Cailungo
- F.C. Domagnano
- S.C. Faetano
- F.C. Fiorentino
- S.P. La Fiorita
- S.S. Folgore Falciano Calcio
- A.C. Juvenes/Dogana
- A.C. Libertas
- S.S. Murata
- S.S. Pennarossa
- S.S. San Giovanni
- S.P. Tre Fiori
- S.P. Tre Penne
- S.S. Virtus
Spain / France
- UE Bossòst play in the French football league system (Occitanie League, Haute-Garonne District, D2).
- AF Les played in the French football league system (Ligue Haute Garonne Comminges) until the 2006-07 season.
Ukraine / Russia
This section's factual accuracy is disputed. (May 2018) (Learn how and when to remove this template message)
- FC SKChF Sevastopol (reconstituted based on FC Sevastopol)
- FC TSK Simferopol (reconstituted based on SC Tavriya Simferopol)
- FC Zhemchuzhina Yalta (revived based on same club that was disqualified from Ukrainian competitions)
The three clubs are from Crimea, a territory recognized by Ukraine and a majority of countries as part of Ukraine, but have been under effective Russian control as the Republic of Crimea since the annexation of Crimea by the Russian Federation. FC Sevastopol and SC Tavriya Simferopol last played in the 2013–14 Ukrainian Premier League, and were dissolved after the completion of the season. The three clubs were reformed as football organizations of the Russian Federation and joined the Russian Professional Football League starting from the 2014–15 season, after approval from the Russian Football Union. The inclusion of Crimean clubs in Russian competitions have not been approved by either FIFA or UEFA, and the Football Federation of Ukraine have lodged a complaint. On 22 August 2014 UEFA decided "that any football matches played by Crimean clubs organised under the auspices of the Russian Football Union will not be recognised by UEFA until further notice", and on 4 December 2014, decided to prohibit Crimean clubs to play in competitions organised by the Russian Football Union as from 1 January 2015 and for the region to be considered as a “special zone” for football purposes until further notice.
Western Sahara / Morocco
- JS Massira, from the Moroccan-controlled city of El Aaiún in the disputed territory of Western Sahara, plays in Botola 2, the second division of the Moroccan Football League.
Many North American sports leagues are made up of teams from different countries—three of the four largest professional leagues have teams representing cities on both sides of the U.S.-Canada border. This phenomenon can also be seen in soccer leagues. Although foreign clubs can and do participate in leagues based in the United States, no such team is eligible to participate in the U.S. Open Cup, which is only open to teams affiliated with the United States Soccer Federation (U.S. Soccer). They are also not eligible to represent the United States in the CONCACAF Champions League. Those teams that do participate in U.S. leagues also participate in various competitions under their local federations to gain entry into the Champions League.
Antigua & Barbuda / United States
- Antigua Barracuda FC played in USL Pro (the league now known as the United Soccer League) from 2011 to 2013. The team was forced to play its entire 2013 schedule on the road due to issues with its home stadium, normally a cricket ground, and folded after that season.
Bermuda / United States
- Bermuda Hogges, before folding at the end of the 2012 season, played in the Premier Development League (PDL). The team began as a member of the USL Second Division (the effective predecessor to today's USL), but self-relegated to the PDL after the 2009 season. Many of the players appeared for the Bermuda national team.
Canada / United States
→ : Canadian in the United States
As of 2018, there are no Canadian based leagues sanctioned in the top two levels of the Canadian soccer league system. As a result, several teams play in the corresponding levels of the American soccer league system.
- Toronto FC have played in MLS since 2007.
- Vancouver Whitecaps FC joined MLS in 2011. The Whitecaps played in the USL First Division until 2009 and in the temporary USSF Division 2 in 2010.
- Montreal Impact joined MLS in 2012. Their predecessors of the same name had played the previous three seasons in three different leagues—the USL First Division in 2009, the temporary USSF Division 2 in 2010, and the new NASL in 2011.
- Ottawa Fury FC began play in the NASL in 2014, replacing a PDL team of the same name. The team moved to the USL after the 2016 season.
- Toronto FC II began play in the USL in 2015. Their parent club, Toronto FC, has announced that TFC II will drop a league level in 2019 and become a founding member of the new USL League One.
Several Canadian clubs played in previous incarnations of the NASL, including:
- Calgary Boomers
- Edmonton Drillers
- Montreal Manic
- Montreal Olympique
- Toronto Blizzard (also known as Toronto Metros and Toronto Metros-Croatia)
- Toronto Falcons
- Vancouver Royals
- Vancouver Whitecaps
Canada's other MLS teams began fielding USL reserve sides in 2015, but both USL sides have since been folded. FC Montréal was folded by the Impact upon the announcement by Ottawa Fury FC that they would join the USL, with the Fury becoming the Impact's top affiliate. The Whitecaps folded Whitecaps FC 2 after the 2017 season in favor of an affiliation with a new USL side, Fresno FC.
- Thunder Bay Chill, Calgary Foothills FC, and WSA Winnipeg are standalone teams playing in the PDL. The Toronto Lynx (which had played in the USL A-League/First Division until 2006) also participated in the PDL until 2014. In addition, two Canadian MLS teams, the Impact and Whitecaps, previously fielded under-23 sides in the PDL. Former Canadian PDL teams include the Abbotsford Mariners, Hamilton Rage, K–W United FC, FC London, original Ottawa Fury, and Vancouver Whitecaps Residency (replaced by Whitecaps U-23).
- FC Edmonton played in the modern North American Soccer League until 2017, at which time it halted professional operations. The club has since announced it will resume professional play in 2019 on its own side of the US–Canada border in the new Canadian Premier League.
As in the men's game, the women's soccer pyramid contains leagues that operate on both sides of the border. The current top level, the National Women's Soccer League, operates solely in the U.S., although it receives financial backing from both U.S. Soccer and the Canadian Soccer Association, and also had backing from the Mexican Football Federation until that body organized its own women's league in 2017.
- The USL W-League had six Canadian members—K-W United, Laval Comets, London Gryphons, Ottawa Fury Women, Quebec Dynamo, and Toronto Lady Lynx at its height before folding following the 2015 season.
- Calgary Foothills WFC began play in United Women's Soccer, one of two leagues that currently form the de facto second level of the women's sport in the two countries, in 2017.
- All Canada-based teams in the first NASL also fielded teams in the indoor league that it operated.
- Late in its existence, the late-20th-century National Professional Soccer League featured four Canadian teams:
- The current top indoor soccer league in the US, the Major Arena Soccer League (MASL), will add a team in the Toronto area (playing in the suburb of Mississauga) in its 2018–19 season.
Mexico / United States
No FIFA-sanctioned league has ever had teams on both sides of the Mexico–US border. However, several Mexican teams have played in US-based indoor soccer leagues.
- The original Monterrey La Raza began play in the Continental Indoor Soccer League (CISL) when the league launched in 1992. When the CISL folded in 1997, the team took a year off and then joined the World Indoor Soccer League (WISL) in 1999. Despite considerable playing success in both leagues, including three league championships, La Raza were expelled from the WISL after their 2000 championship season due to arena issues.
- The Monterrey Fury began play in the second Major Indoor Soccer League (MISL) in 2003. The team folded in 2004, during its second season of play.
- A new version of the Monterrey La Raza joined the MISL in 2007. When that league folded, La Raza joined the National Indoor Soccer League, which would later become the third MISL. The team folded at the end of the 2009–10 season despite winning the league championship.
- Toros Mexico, based in Tijuana, joined the Professional Arena Soccer League (PASL), known since 2014–15 as the Major Arena Soccer League (MASL), in 2010. The team folded after the 2013–14 season.
- Two Mexican teams joined the PASL in 2013: the Monterrey Flash and Saltillo Rancho Seco. The Flash went on hiatus after the 2014–15 MASL season and rejoined the MASL for 2017–18. Rancho Seco left the MASL after its 2015–16 season but continues to compete in Mexico's indoor league.
- Atletico Baja, based in Tijuana, and the Sonora Suns, based in Hermosillo, joined the MASL in 2015. Atletico Baja folded after the 2016–17 season, while the Suns continue to play in the MASL.
Puerto Rico / United States
- The Puerto Rico Islanders played in the new NASL in the league's first two seasons of 2011 and 2012, but have not played since then and have apparently folded. The Islanders had played in the USL First Division in 2009 and USSF Division 2 in 2010. Even though Puerto Rico is a dependent territory of the United States, it has a separate football federation, the Puerto Rican Football Federation. The highest level of competition within Puerto Rico is the Puerto Rico Soccer League, which the team do not usually participate in (however, they played in the 2010 season when it was played in a shortened format). The Islanders have represented Puerto Rico at the CFU Club Championship and the CONCACAF Champions League.
- Sevilla FC Puerto Rico, Club Atlético River Plate Puerto Rico, and Puerto Rico United were initially going to play in USL Pro in the 2011 season, but were removed due to severe economic difficulties. All three teams moved to Puerto Rican leagues.
- A new Puerto Rican club, Puerto Rico FC, began play in the current NASL in that league's 2016 fall season (the second half of its split season).
Asia & Oceania
Australia / Singapore
- Perth Kangaroos IFC and the Darwin Cubs played in the 1994 Singapore Premier League, placing first and second, respectively.
Brunei / Malaysia
- DPMM FC played in the Malaysia Premier League in 2006, and the Malaysia Super League in 2007 and 2008.
- The Football Association of Brunei Darussalam used to enter a team in the Malaysian league.
Brunei / Singapore
- DPMM FC play in the S.League, starting in 2009, after getting kicked out the Malaysia Super League for the 2009 season (see above). They were also invited to take part in the Singapore Cup in 2007. Since the FIFA ban on the Brunei FA in 2009, DPMM FC have suspended their participation and resumed it only in 2012.
China / Hong Kong
- Lanwa FC played in the Hong Kong First Division League for three seasons from 2005 to 2008. While Hong Kong is a special administrative region of China, it has its own football federation (Hong Kong Football Association) and professional league (Hong Kong Premier League).
- Chengdu Tiancheng and Xiangxue Eisiti were both reserve teams of clubs based in mainland China which played in the 2008–09 Hong Kong First Division League season. However, both teams played their home games in Hong Kong.
- R&F (a reserve team of Guangzhou R&F F.C., a top-level professional club in China's Super League) play in the Hong Kong Premier League, starting from the 2016-17 season.
Malaysia / Australia
- Harimau Muda A competed in National Premier Leagues Queensland in the 2014 season, but played all their games in Australia.
Malaysia / Singapore
- As part of a two-way arrangement with the Football Association of Singapore, the Football Association of Malaysia entered an under-22 representative side, known as Harimau Muda A, in the S-League from 2012 to 2015 (in 2014 with a B-Team (see above)).
- The Football Association of Singapore used to enter a team in the Malaysian league, but pulled out after the 1994 season following a dispute with the Football Association of Malaysia over gate receipts, and launched its own S.League. From 2012 to 2015, a new Singapore representative side, based around the Under-23 team participated in the Malaysia Super League and the Malaysia Cup.
New Zealand / Australia
- Wellington Phoenix play in the A-League, starting from the 2007–08 season.
- New Zealand Knights played in the National Soccer League from 1999 to 2004 (as Football Kingz FC) and in the A-League from 2005 to 2007.
As New Zealand is a member of OFC and Australia is a member of AFC since moving from OFC in 2006, Wellington Phoenix are playing in the league of a member of another football confederation. As per agreement with FIFA, AFC and OFC, Wellington Phoenix are not allowed to participate in the AFC Champions League. They also do not participate in the OFC Champions League, as New Zealand is represented by clubs from its football league, the New Zealand Football Championship. Wellington Phoenix are the only extant professional football team in New Zealand; the New Zealand Football Championship is amateur. The reserve team of Wellington Phoenix began play in the NZ Championship in 2014–15, and have featured in every season since.
Foreign & Satellite teams in Singapore
Besides DPMM FC, a number of "foreign" teams have also played in the S.League. These clubs, while playing their home games in Singapore, are either satellite teams of foreign clubs or are made up exclusively of foreign players:
- Albirex Niigata Singapore FC (a satellite team of Albirex Niigata, a top-level professional club in Japan's J. League)
- Beijing Guoan Talent Singapore FC (a satellite team of Beijing Guoan F.C., a top-level professional club in China's Super League)
- Dalian Shide Siwu FC (a satellite team of Dalian Haichang, a top-level professional club in China's Super League)
- Etoile FC (made up of players of French origin)
- Liaoning Guangyuan FC (a satellite team of Liaoning FC, a top-level professional club in China's Super League)
- Sinchi FC (a team made up of players from China)
- Sporting Afrique FC (made up of players of African origin)
- Yishun Super Reds FC (made up of players from South Korea)
In recent years, foreign clubs from other countries have also been invited to participate in the Singapore Cup.
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- League entry denied
- Scott, Matt (6 May 2011). "Football Association breaks Welsh jurisdiction over Cardiff and Swansea". The Guardian. Retrieved 20 January 2012.
- FA approves Cardiff for Uefa Cup
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- AK Allgäu 4 BFV website, accessed: 26 September 2016
- "Crimean clubs to play in Russian second division from next season". Inside World Football. 13 August 2014.
- "Ukraine crisis: Russia's claim on Crimea's football clubs". BBC Sport. 15 August 2014.
- "UEFA Emergency Panel decision on Crimean clubs". UEFA.org. 22 August 2014.
- "UEFA Nations League format and schedule confirmed". UEFA.org. 4 December 2014.
- Ad hoc Committee for Professional Clubs[permanent dead link]
- "Phoenix reserve team to play in national league". Stuff.co.nz. 22 August 2014.