World Cup vs Premier League

Premier League vs World Cup – What’s The Difference?

Last updated on June 26th, 2022

If you have been following football for quite a while, you may have noticed that there are quite a few competitions that you can follow.

2 of the major ones include the Premier League and World Cup, and you may be wondering how they differ from each other.

Here’s what you need to know about them:

The difference between the Premier League and the World Cup

The Premier League involves the top 20 football clubs from England, while the World Cup consists of 32 national teams from 6 different continents. The Premier League follows a round-robin format, while the World Cup contains a group stage as well as a knockout round.

Here is a comparison between these 2 competitions:

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Number of teams involved

The Premier League is a league that contains the top 20 teams in the English leagues.

In fact, the Premier League actually used to contain 22 teams, before finally reducing to 20 teams!

Meanwhile, the World Cup has 32 teams in the actual tournament, where it is split into 8 groups of 4 teams.

This only measures the number of teams in the main competition. There will be quite a few teams that were involved in the qualifying rounds which do not make the cut.

Number of continents involved

The Premier League only involves clubs that are part of the English Football Association. As such, all of these clubs will originate from UEFA, which is the football association of Europe.

However, due to historical reasons, it may be possible that some Welsh teams can play in the Premier League too!

Meanwhile, the World Cup involves countries from all over the world. However, there is a limit to how many teams per continent can feature in the World Cup:

ContinentNumber of Countries
Asia4 or 5
North, Central America
and Caribbean
3 or 4
South America4 or 5
Oceania0 or 1

These limits were decided in 2015 for the next few World Cups, until 2022.

The host will automatically for the competition, which leaves 31 more slots for the other teams.

Europe has the most number of slots at 13! The next continent with the second-highest number of teams including both Asia and South America.

Frequency of the competition

The Premier League happens every year, along with the European football season. Meanwhile, the World Cup happens once every 4 years.

The World Cup is usually held 2 years apart from continental competitions, such as:

  1. Euros
  2. Copa America

It is also held 2 years apart from the Olympics. With many restrictions being placed on Olympic football, it is no wonder why it is much less popular compared to the World Cup.

Duration of the competition

The Premier League starts in August and ends in May. These matches are played almost every week, apart from international friendlies and weekends reserved for cup competitions.

Meanwhile, the World Cup is usually held over the course of one month. The competition usually starts in June, one month after most football seasons end in May.

It will then run all the way till the end of July.

This is because the May-August period is the season break for most leagues. As such, the World Cup matches can be played continuously, after a few days’ break between matches.

Type of teams

For the Premier League, the top English clubs will be competing in this competition.

Meanwhile, the World Cup consists of 32 different national teams.

This does make a difference, because football clubs can choose the players they want to buy and sell. In this case, it is possible to build very strong football teams, such as Manchester City.

This is in contrast to national teams. While it is possible to switch national teams, the players would have to meet certain criteria before doing so.

Some countries may have one or two well-known football stars, while the rest of the team may not be of the same standard.

An example is Mohamed Salah, who is the main star of the Egyptian national team.

However, there are some national teams that are really strong, such as France or Germany.

Some of the players who are on the first team of their clubs may not even be selected for their national team!

Format of competition

The Premier League follows a double round-robin league format. Each team will play against the other 19 clubs in the league.

Meanwhile, the World Cup consists of a group stage, and then a knockout round.

The top 2 teams from each group will progress onto the knockout round of the tournament.

If you’re wondering what happens if the top teams have the same points in the group stages, you can check out this article to find out more.

In the World Cup, the knockout round will start with the round of 16. This is because the top 2 teams from each of the 8 groups will qualify for the next part of the tournament.

Number of matches

If your team is in the Premier League, they will play 38 matches. This is because they will play against the other 19 clubs in the league, both home and away.

You can find out more about how to read a soccer table with my guide here.

Assuming that your team is able to reach the final of the World Cup, your team will play 7 matches from the start of the tournament.

of Matches
Group Stages3
Round of 161
Final / Third-
placed match

Squad size

Each club in the Premier League can only have 25 players. A maximum of 17 players are considered to be ‘non-homegrown’.

You can read more about the ‘homegrown’ rule in the Premier League and other competitions in my guide here.

Meanwhile, the World Cup has a smaller squad size (23 players) that can participate in the tournament.

Qualification for competition

To qualify to be in the Premier League, you will need to be in the top 20 football teams in the English football pyramid. If you are starting at the bottom of the pyramid, you will need to get promoted to the different tiers, and ultimately reach the Premier League.

One of the most gruelling competitions is the EFL Championship, which is the second tier of English football. There are 24 teams that are competing for 3 spots in the Premier League.

The teams that are in 3rd to 6th place will compete in the Championship playoffs. This is one of the most intense competitions, especially since there is a Premier League spot at stake!

For the World Cup, only the host is able to receive automatic qualification for the competition.

Apart from that, all of the countries would have to play in the World Cup qualifiers, which differ for the different countries.

Rewards for winning competition

When your team wins the Premier League, they will be considered to be the best club in England. They will win a rather huge sum of prize money, and are able to participate in these competitions in the next season:

When your country wins the World Cup, it is considered to be one of the greatest honours to win as a footballer. This is because your country will be considered to be the best footballing team in the world.

Some people may say that the Champions League may be better than the World Cup, but it’s really up to your discretion!

As such, the prestige that you receive from winning these 2 competitions is rather different.


Here is a summary of all of the points that we’ve discussed regarding these 2 tournaments:

Premier LeagueWorld Cup
of Teams
Number of
1 (Europe)6
Frequency of
Every yearEvery 4 years
Duration of
11 months1 month
Type of
English clubsNational teams
Format of
Double round-robinGroup stage +
knockout round
of Matches
38Up to 7
Squad Size2523
QualificationTop 2 teams from
EFL Championship

4th to 6th place in playoffs
Only for hosts automatically qualify
Rewards for
Winning Competition
Best country in England

Champions League spot

FA Community Shield
Best country in the world


The World Cup is an international tournament, while the Premier League is a club-level tournament.

The World Cup may have slightly more prestige if you take national pride very seriously. Moreover, since it only happens every 4 years, it may be more exciting to watch compared to the Premier League which happens every year!

You can find out more about the differences between club football and international football here.

If you’re looking to buy the latest football merchandise from your favourite club, you can check out the latest deals at Kitbag.

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