In the North American model, the professional league is independent from federal and Olympic structures. It takes the form of an autonomous organization that groups together several clubs participating in the competitions that the league organizes according to its own calendar. In Europe, the league is integrated into the traditional pyramid structure in sports which ranges from the local to the international level. The professional league, made up of professional clubs, is thus linked to a national federation. Both the league and the national federation are then integrated into a global hierarchy regulated by an international federation. This interdependence between the different levels within the pyramid explains why the clubs making up the league are involved in several levels of competition -national and supranational. In contrast, in North America clubs are only involved in competition involving American and Canadian clubs.
How competitions are organized also differs between the two models. Competitions are referred to as open in Europe because the participation of clubs in a professional league is conditional on their sports results, and subject to the promotion-relegation system. In contrast, North American professional leagues are organized in a closed system, which means that clubs are not dependent on their sports results and are guaranteed to compete from one season to the next without the risk of relegation. This system is based on the league's control of new entrants and their ability to pay the fee for entry.
These organizational differences naturally lead to differences in clubs’ governance. In the European model, the primary objective of clubs is to maximize victories. The promotion-relegation system encourages them to perform well on the sporting level: On the one hand, good sporting results are a prerequisite for access to the upper divisions; on the other hand, a minimum sporting performance is required to remain in a division and avoid being relegated to a lower one. Furthermore, in Europe it is essential to perform well in national competitions in order to be able to join supranational ones.