What is a Friendly Match in Football and Why is it Played?

Football is the most popular sport on the planet. The world loves it and many sports fans love it. 

Most fans watch football when the big leagues have their seasons, but every once in a while, there will be a friendly match between two national teams. Exhibition and friendly matches are common in football, on all continents. A good example is when Nigeria last faced Cameroon in a friendly match. Though, most fans would ask, why are there friendly matches in football and what do they mean? Let us try to explain.

Sport Promotion and Development

One would think that a sport such as football does not need that much maintenance, yet they would be wrong. The world is a competitive place and exhibition matches are always a good way to draw attention to the sport.

Football had exhibition matches from the time modern football was played. The majority of football matches prior to the establishment of the Football League in England, 1888, were exhibition matches.

To elaborate, exhibition matches are seen as matches where the victorious team gains no points or prize money, or if they do, the prizes are insignificant compared to actual tournaments. These types of matches are also known as scrims, friendlies, warmup, preseason, or preparation matches, depending on the occasion.

They keep the fans interested and the players ready.

Exhibitions as Preparation Matches

During the off-season or when preparing for a tournament such as the FIFA World Cup, teams, whether clubs or national teams, would prepare for a match by playing other teams as if it were an actual match. This would not only help the athletes prepare, but would also give the players actual practice against a potential rival in the tournament.

This is typical for off-season play, when there is downtime and no league matches are being played. It is also very frequent during the months before the World Cup starts, when already qualified teams want to prepare more. They would play teams which are not from their group, to avoid revealing any specific tactics.

It’s All About the Brand

Football is a popular sport and the people involved on the management side of things are aware of that. They plan ahead and use exhibition matches as an opportunity to develop the club/team’s brand. 

This also serves as a good opportunity for everybody involved to profit, from the venue that hosts the match, to the broadcasting and advertising companies involved, as well as the very players and teams.

It is a standard advertising practice, which can also have another purpose, when tournaments are in the near future.

Football is the most popular sport in the world and there is a good reason for it. Exhibition matches help in popularizing the sport, but they also serve as practice, or show matches, depending on the occasion.