German Football Leagues

German Football Leagues

German football leagues are governed by the Deutscher Fussball-Gund or DFB.  Like most of the European countries, their system allows for relegation and promotion between teams. 

Image by jorono from Pixabay



The epitome of German football is the German Bundesliga. The Bundesliga consists of 18 teams. Each year, two teams are relegated, and there is a relegation play-off match to decide the second-last team.

Bundesliga 2 follows the same pattern as the Bundesliga. They also have 18 teams, and each year two teams get promoted. The second promotion is decided by a play-off match. They also follow the same structure for their relegation

Third, is the German Liga. It has 20 teams, out of which two teams get promoted. The second promotion gets decided by the play-off match. Furthermore, four teams get relegated.

Semi-Pro / Amateur Leagues

The fourth level of association football in Germany is the Regionalliga.  It is a semi-professional league and is split into five divisions by region.  These are overseen by the local regional associations in Germany.

  • Northern German Football Association
  • North East German Football Association
  • Western German Football and Athletics Association
  • Southern German Football Association
  • Regional Football Association South West.

From the fifth level and below Germany has a number of amateur divisions of football that are primarily overseen by its 21 states.    

In Germany, many players grow up in the system and are associated with a football club from a young age.  The German system does try to allow university players to also have opportunities for play.

Leverkusen University has one of the best football grounds in semi-pro football. They create an intra-university tournament from all over the country so that university students can show their potential.

Women – German Football Leagues

There are several tiers of womens football in Germany.  The top league is known as the Fraun-Bundesliga.  The second tier is known as the Fraun-Bundesliga 2.

The third level is made up of  five groups of Regional teams.

Below this are more leagues that play locally.


National players are the core of German football, and most specifically, Bayern Munich. The German national team always tries to ensure that they get the best German talents onboard from the Bundesliga to compete for the biggest trophies.

It is interesting to note that from 2010 till 2014, the German National team only consisted of players from Bayern Munich or Borussia Dortmund.

In comparison to other football leagues, the foreign players often find it easier to adjust in the Bundesliga. However, the German players have found it challenging to adapt to other leagues.

Two examples of foreign talent playing in Germany are Jadon Sancho a formidable English talent playing at Borussia Dortmund and Robert Lewandowski, who is at Bayern Munich.


The three best known sources for fostering young talent in Germany are Bayern Munich, Borussia Dortmund, and RB Leipzig. Each of those clubs look at youth players from the age of nine and up.

These clubs register the Under-10s and began to work with them to ensure that they can play at the first-team level.

Bayern Munich especially is known for believing that sports are as important as education. They create a paradigm that allows youth players to enjoy their studies and soccer at the same time. 

Click here for a list of some of the residential soccer Academies in Europe.