France's amateur football leagues

“He plays in the CFA, or the N2 as it's now called.”France's amateur leagues were renamed and restructured a few years ago and are still the cause of some confusion. We're here to help you find your way around them.

France's amateur football leagues

The slightly complicated organization of French football

In 2017, The French Football Federation decided to reorganize the amateur championships after the French territorial reform. The goal was simple: reduce 22 regional leagues to 13. While on paper this may seem anecdotal, this reform actually turned numerous amateur clubs upside down. Many of them complained of seeing their fees and transportation times increase considerably as teams located further and further away were merged into the same championship. And, for certain clubs, this change did not come with extra financial support, putting them in a difficult spot. 

So how is amateur football organized today? 

Let's start with the departmental divisions, more commonly called "districts”. Their organization varies depending on the French department. But generally, every league is made up of 10 or 12 teams (sometimes 14) that strive to come out on top. The places with the most licenses will have more levels. In Alsace for example, you can play at the 9th district level, which is officially known as the 17th level within the FFF. A team from this championship with a solid performance in the Coupe de France won't be able to shake its reputation as a small fish in a big pond!


How does regional football work? 

To wrap up, this departmental level is the foundation of French football. It's here where most of our country's players, along with their supporters, regularly embody the world of association football. 

Let's go a level up and move on to the regional stage.

Three championships are in play here, previously known as DH, PH and PHR. Now, they are just called R1, R2 and R3. Once again, the organization of championships varies by region. There are several groups of a dozen teams that make up each level: the higher the level, the fewer groups there are. This way, other than Grand Est and Nouvelle-Aquitaine, there are never more than two groups in R1. Play at the regional level is intense and technical, so much so that, for numerous footballers, it has become close to the Holy Grail: reaching the national level.



The Holy Grail of amateur football: the National level

Here, the organization is generally well-known. We won't drone on about League 1, League 2 or National because these championships are the most popular and haven't changed for the last several years (other than the playoffs).

Goodbye CFA and CFA2, now they're referred to as National 2 and National 3. N3 is organized into 12 groups of 14 teams, which are divided according to their original league. The champion of each pool ascends to N2, which is made up of 4 groups of 16 clubs. Here again, these are the 4 champions that will have the chance to compete at the next level the following season.