Exhibition game

Sydney FC playing a friendly match against the Los Angeles Galaxy at ANZ Stadium in November 2007.

An exhibition game (also known as a friendly, a scrimmage, a demonstration, a preseason game, a warmup match, or a preparation match, depending at least in part on the sport) is a sporting event whose prize money and impact on the player's or the team's rankings is either zero or otherwise greatly reduced. In team sports, matches of this type are often used to help coaches and managers select and condition players for the competitive matches of a league season or tournament. If the players usually play in different teams in other leagues, exhibition games offer an opportunity for the players to learn to work with each other. The games can be held between separate teams or between parts of the same team.

An exhibition game may also be used to settle a challenge, to provide professional entertainment, to promote the sport, to commemorate an anniversary or a famous player, or to raise money for charities. Several sports leagues hold all-star games to showcase their best players against each other, while other exhibitions games may pit participants from two different leagues or countries to unofficially determine who would be the best in the world. International competitions like the Olympic Games may also hold exhibition games as part of a demonstration sport.

Association football

Exhibition game of veterans of FC Spartak Moscow against Team of Severodvinsk in Russia

In the early days of football, friendlies were the most common type of match. However, since the development of The Football League in England in 1888, league tournaments became established, in addition to lengthy derby and cup tournaments. By the year 2000, national leagues were established in almost every country throughout the world, as well as local or regional leagues for lower level teams; thus the significance of friendly matches has seriously declined since the 19th century.

Club football

Since the introduction of league football, most club sides play a number of friendlies before the start of each season (called pre-season friendlies). Friendly football matches are considered to be non-competitive and are only used to "warm up" players for a new season/competitive match. There is generally nothing competitive at stake and some rules may be changed or experimented with (such as unlimited substitutions, which allow teams to play younger, less experienced, players, and no cards). Frequently such games take place between a large club and small clubs that play nearby, such as those between Newcastle United and Gateshead.

Although most friendlies are simply one-off matches arranged by the clubs themselves, in which a certain amount is paid by the challenger club to the incumbent club, some teams do compete in short tournaments, such as the Community Shield, Emirates Cup, Teresa Herrera Trophy, International Champions Cup and the Amsterdam Tournament. Although these events may involve sponsorship deals and the awarding of a trophy and may even be broadcast on television, there is little prestige attached to them.

International football

International teams also play friendlies, generally in preparation for the qualifying or final stages of major tournaments. This is essential, since national squads generally have much less time together in which to prepare. The biggest difference between friendlies at the club and international levels is that international friendlies mostly take place during club league seasons, not between them. This has on occasion led to disagreement between national associations and clubs as to the availability of players, who could become injured or fatigued in a friendly.

International friendlies give team managers the opportunity to experiment with team selection and tactics before the tournament proper, and also allow them to assess the abilities of players they may potentially select for the tournament squad. Players can be booked in international friendlies, and can be suspended from future international matches based on red cards or accumulated yellows in a specified period. Caps and goals scored also count towards a player's career records. In 2004, FIFA ruled that substitutions by a team be limited to six per match in international friendlies in response to criticism that such matches were becoming increasingly farcical with managers making as many as 11 substitutions per match.

Matches in multinational football tournaments such as the King's Cup, the Kirin Cup, and the China Cup are usually considered international friendlies by FIFA.

Fundraising game

In the UK and Ireland, "exhibition match" and "friendly match" refer to two different types of games. The types described above as friendlies are not termed exhibition matches, while annual all-star matches such as those held in the US Major League Soccer or Japan's Japanese League are called exhibition matches rather than friendly matches. A one-off match for charitable fundraising, usually involving one or two all-star teams, or a match held in honor of a player for contribution to his/her club, may also be described as exhibition matches but they are normally referred to as charity matches and testimonial matches respectively.

Bounce game

A bounce game is generally a non-competitive football match played between two sides usually as part of a training exercise[1][2] or to give players match practice.[3][4] Managers may also use bounce games as an opportunity to observe a player in action before offering a contract.[5][6] Usually these games are played on a training ground[7] rather than in a stadium with no spectators in attendance.[8]

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