The global football calendar consists of club football during which players from all over the world ply their trade in different countries. During this period, footballers participate in domestic and international leagues such as the English Premier League, La Liga in Spain, Serie A in Italy and the Bundesliga in Germany.  

However, during a football season, FIFA, the world governing body for football, allocates certain dates for national teams to participate in various events including qualifiers for major tournaments and friendlies. The window is called an international break in football.

What is international break in football? 

The international break is a period during which club football comes to a halt and players join their national teams for international duty. The goal of the international break is to allow the scheduling of international competitions. 

These breaks facilitate FIFA and other continental football governing bodies, such as UEFA, CONMEBOL, CONCACAF, and others to organise the continental tournaments.

One of the main reasons for international breaks is to conduct qualification matches for major tournaments such as the FIFA World Cup, UEFA European Championship, CONCACAF Gold Cup, Copa America, AFC Asian Cup, AFCON and other events. 

These qualification matches during multiple international breaks over the course of a couple of seasons determine which national teams will secure a place in their respective upcoming regional tournament or the World Cup on the global stage.

Besides qualifiers, national teams also participate in friendlies during the break. These matches provide teams with an opportunity to experiment with formations, strategies and try out new players. FIFA also schedules international breaks for tournaments like the UEFA Nations League, a continental competition involving top European teams. 

The international break leaves top footballing clubs without their key players, which is bound to affect the balance and performance of teams in domestic competitions. Hence, the top leagues in the world cease their footballing activities during this period.

The international breaks are scheduled well in advance by FIFA in collaboration with the football leagues and confederations across the world to create a calendar that outlines the dates for international breaks.

There are a total of five international breaks over the course of a season, which begins in August in Europe. The first international break is usually in the second week of September, followed by a couple of more in the second week’s of October and November.

The first of the last two international breaks occur in the third week of March in the following year, while the final one takes place after the completion of the European domestic season and the UEFA Champions League tournament.

The 2023-24 footballing calendar has scheduled international breaks from September 4 to 12, October 9 to 17 and from November 13 to 21 this year. In 2024, the windows for the international break is from March 18 to 26. Furthermore, the months of June and July in 2024 will also see the UEFA European Championships 2024 being held in Germany.

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