UEFA Champions League


UEFA Champions League
UEFA Champions League
UEFA Champions League logo 2.svg
The current UEFA Champions League official logo, in use since 1992
Founded 1955 (1992 in its
current format)
Region Europe (UEFA)
Number of teams 32 (group stage)
76 or 77 (total)
Current champions Spain Barcelona (4th title)
Most successful club Spain Real Madrid (9 titles)
Television broadcasters List of broadcasters
Website Official website
2011–12 UEFA Champions League

The UEFA Champions League, known simply the Champions League and originally known as the European Champion Clubs' Cup or European Cup, is an annual international club football competition organised by the Union of European Football Associations (UEFA) since 1955 for the top football clubs in Europe.[1] It is the most prestigious club competition in European football. The final of the competition is the most watched annual sporting event worldwide, drawing over 145 million television viewers.[2]

Prior to 1992, the tournament was officially called the "European Champion Clubs' Cup", but was usually referred to simply as the "European Cup".[1] The competition was initially a straight knockout competition open only to the champion club of each country.[1] During the 1990s the tournament began to be expanded, incorporating a round-robin group phase and more teams.[1] Europe's strongest national leagues now provide up to four teams each for the competition.[3] The UEFA Champions League should not be confused with the UEFA Europa League, formerly known as the UEFA Cup.[4]

The tournament consists of several stages.[5] In the present format, it begins in mid-July with three knockout qualifying rounds and a play-off round.[5] The 10 surviving teams join 22 seeded teams in the group stage, in which there are eight groups of four teams each.[5] The eight group winners and eight runners-up enter the final knockout phase, which culminates with the final match in May.[5] The winner of the UEFA Champions League qualifies for the UEFA Super Cup and the FIFA Club World Cup.[6][7]

The reigning champion of the competition is Spanish club Barcelona.[8] Real Madrid are the most successful club in the competition's history, having won the tournament nine times, including the first five seasons it was contested.[9] Spanish clubs have accumulated the most amount of victories with 13 wins, while England has the largest number of different winning teams, with a total of four clubs having won the title.[9] The title has been won by 21 different clubs, 12 of which have won the title more than once.[9] Since the tournament changed name and structure in 1992, no club has managed consecutive wins, with Milan being the last club to successfully defend their title, in 1990.[10]

Contents

History

Paris was the birthplace of the tournament.

The first pan-European competition was the Challenge Cup, a competition between clubs of the Austro-Hungarian Empire.[11] The Mitropa Cup, a competition modeled after the Challenge Cup, was created in 1927 and played between Central European clubs.[12] In 1930, the Coupe des Nations (French: Nations Cup), the first attempt to create a cup for national champion clubs of Europe, was played and organized by Swiss club FC Servette.[13] Held in Geneva, it brought together ten champions from across the continent. The tournament was won by Újpest FC of Hungary.[13] Latin European nations came together to form the Latin Cup in 1949.[14] After receiving reports from his journalists over the highly successful Campeonato Sudamericano de Campeones of 1948, Gabriel Hanot, editor of L'Équipe, begin proposing the creation of a continent-wide tournament.[15] After the British press declared Wolverhampton Wanderers "Champions of the World" after a successful run of friendlies in the 1950s, Hanot finally managed to convince UEFA to put into practice such a tournament.[1] It was conceived in Paris in 1955 as the European Champion Clubs' Cup.[1]

1955-1965: Beginnings

Real Madrid won the first five competitions, a consecutive record that still stands today.

The first edition of the European Cup took place during the 1955–56 season.[16][17] Sixteen teams participated: AC Milan of Italy, AGF Aarhus of Denmark, Anderlecht of Belgium, Djurgården of Sweden, Gwardia Warszawa of Poland, Hibernian of Scotland, Partizan of Yugoslavia, PSV Eindhoven of the Netherlands, Rapid Wien of Austria, Real Madrid of Spain, Rot-Weiss Essen of West Germany, Saarbrücken of Saar, Servette of Switzerland, Sporting CP of Portugal, Stade Reims of France and Vörös Lobogó of Hungary.[16][17] The first European Cup match took place on 4 September 1955, which ended in a 3-3 draw between Sporting CP and Partizan.[16][17] The first goal in European Cup history was scored by João Baptista Martins of Sporting CP.[16][17] The inaugural final took place at the Parc des Princes between Stade Reims and Real Madrid.[16][17][18] The Spanish squad came back from behind to win 4-3 thanks to two goals from Alfredo Di Stéfano and Marquitos each, as well as a brace from Héctor Rial.[16][17][18]

Real Madrid successfully defended the trophy next season in their home stadium, the Estadio Santiago Bernabéu, against Fiorentina.[19][20] After a scoreless first half, Real Madrid scored twice in six minutes to defeat the Italians.[19][20][18] In 1958, AC Milan failed to capitalize after going ahead on the scoreline twice, only for Real Madrid to equalize.[21][22] The final held in Heysel Stadium went to extra time when Francisco Gento scored the game-winning goal to allow Real Madrid to retain the title for the third, consecutive season.[21][22][18] In a rematch of the first final, Real Madrid faced Stade Reims at the Neckarstadion for the 1958–59 season final, easily winning 2-0.[23][24][18] West German side Eintracht Frankfurt became the first non-Latin team to reach the European Cup final.[25][26] The 1959–60 season finale still holds the record for the most goals scored, but the record is overshadowed by the 7-3 thrashing Eintracht Frankfurt received in Hampden Park, courtesy of four goals by Ferenc Puskás and a hat-trick by Di Stéfano.[25][26][18] This was Real Madrid's fifth, consecutive title, a record that still stands today.[9]

The Merengues reign ended in the 1960–61 season when bitter rivals Barcelona dethroned them in the quarterfinals.[27][28] However, Barcelona themselves would be defeated in the final by Portuguese outfit Benfica 3-2 at Wankdorf Stadium.[27][28][29] Reinforced by Eusebio, Benfica defeated Real Madrid 5-3 at the Olympic Stadium and kept the title for a second, consecutive season.[30][31][29] Benfica wanted to repeat Real Madrid's successful run of the 1950s after reaching the showpiece event of the 1962-63 European Cup; but a brace from Brazilian-Italian José Altafini at the Wembley Stadium gave the spoils to AC Milan, making the trophy leave the Iberian peninsula for the first time ever.[32][33][34] Internazionale beat an aging-Real Madrid 3-1 in the Ernst-Happel-Stadion to win the 1963–64 season and replicate their local-rival's success.[35][36][37] The title stayed in Milan for the third year in a row after Internazionale beat Benfica 1-0 at their home ground, the San Siro.[38][39][40]

Anthem

The UEFA Champions League anthem, officially titled simply as "Champions League", was written by Tony Britten, and is an adaptation of George Frideric Handel's "Zadok the Priest" from the Coronation Anthems.[41][42] UEFA commissioned Britten in 1992 to arrange an anthem, and the piece was performed by London's Royal Philharmonic Orchestra and sung by the Academy of St. Martin in the Fields.[41] The chorus contains the three official languages used by UEFA: English, German, and French. The anthem's chorus is played before each UEFA Champions League game, as well as at the beginning and end of television broadcasts of the matches. The complete anthem is about three minutes long, and has two short verses and the chorus. For the 2009 UEFA Champions League Final in Rome, tenor Andrea Bocelli sang backing lyrics to the Champions League anthem, whilst similarly Juan Diego Flórez provided the tenor for the 2010 UEFA Champions League Final. Girl band All Angels performed at the 2011 UEFA Champions League Final. The anthem has never been released commercially in its original version.

Format

Qualification

Map of UEFA countries whose teams reached the group stage of the UEFA Champions League
  UEFA member country that has been represented in the group stage
  UEFA member country that has not been represented in the group stage
  Not a UEFA member

As of 2011, the UEFA Champions League commences with a round-robin group stage of 32 teams, which is preceded by two qualification 'streams' for teams that do not receive direct entry to the tournament proper. The two streams are divided between teams qualified by virtue of being league champions, and those qualified by virtue of finishing 2nd–4th in their national championship.

The number of teams that each association enters into the UEFA Champions League is based upon the UEFA coefficients of the member associations. These coefficients are generated by the results of clubs representing each association during the previous five Champions League and UEFA Europa League/UEFA Cup seasons. The higher an association's coefficient, the more teams represent the association in the Champions League, and the fewer qualification rounds the association's teams must compete in.

5 of the remaining ten qualifying places are granted to the winners of a four round qualifying tournament between the remaining 39 or 38 national champions, within which those champions from associations with higher coefficients receive byes to later rounds. The other 5 are granted to the winners of a two round qualifying tournament between the 15 clubs from the associations ranked 1–15, which have qualified based upon finishing 2nd–4th in their national league.

In addition to sporting criteria, any club must be licensed by its national association to participate in the Champions league. To obtain a license, the club must meet certain stadium, infrastructure and finance requirements.

In 2005–06, Liverpool and Artmedia Bratislava became the first teams to reach the Champions League group stage after playing in all three qualifying rounds. In 2008–09, both BATE and Anorthosis Famagusta achieved the same feat. Manchester United is the team that has appeared most often in the group stage: seventeen times. They have gone on to win the tournament three times, in 1968, 1999, and 2008.

Between 2003 and 2008, no differentiation was made between champions and non-champions in qualification. The sixteen top ranked teams spread across the biggest domestic leagues qualified directly for the tournament group stage. Prior to this, three preliminary knockout qualifying rounds whittled down the remaining teams, with different teams starting in different rounds.

Tournament

The tournament proper begins with a group stage of 32 teams, divided into eight groups. Seeding is used whilst making the draw for this stage, whilst teams from the same country may not be drawn into groups together. Each team meets the others in its group home and away in a round-robin format. The winning team and the runners-up from each group then progress to the next round.

For this stage, the winning team from one group plays against the runners-up from another group, and teams from the same country may not be drawn against each other. From the quarter-finals onwards, the draw is entirely random, with country protection no longer in force, this does not include countries from the United Kingdom who can be drawn against each other unless they are from the same association. The tournament uses the away goals rule: if the aggregate score of the two games is tied, then the team who scored more goals at their opponent's stadium advances. The top two teams from each group progress to the round of 16, which commences the knock-out tournament. The third-placed team enters the UEFA Europa League.

The group stage is played through the autumn, whilst the knock-out stage starts after a winter break. The knock-out ties are played in a two-legged format, with the exception of the final. This is typically held in the final two weeks of May.

Referees

Ranking

The UEFA Refereeing Unit is broken down into five experience-based categories in which a referee is placed into Category 4 with the exception of referees from France, Germany, England, Italy, or Spain. Referees from these five countries are typically comfortable with top professional matches and are therefore directly placed into Category 3. After every match, a referee's performance is observed and evaluated. Twice per season his Category may be revised. A referee cannot be promoted directly from Category 3 to the Elite Category.[43]

Appointment

In cooperation with the UEFA Refereeing Unit, the UEFA Referee Committee is responsible for appointing referees to matches. Referees are appointed based on previous matches, marks, performances, and fitness levels. To discourage bias, the Champions League takes nationality into account. No referee may be of the same origins as any club in his or her respecting groups. Referee appointments, suggested by the UEFA Refereeing Unit, are sent to the UEFA Referee Committee to be discussed and/or revised. After a consensus is made, the name of the appointed referee remains confidential up to two days before the match for the purpose of minimizing public influence.[43]

Limitations

Since 1990, a UEFA international referee cannot exceed the age of 45 years. After turning 45, a referee must step down at the end of his season. The age limit was established to ensure an elite level of fitness. Today, UEFA Champions League referees are required to pass a fitness test to even be considered at the international level.[43]

Prize money

As of 2010–11, UEFA awards 2.1 million to each team in the play-offs round. For reaching the group stage, UEFA awards €3.9 million, plus €550,000 per group match played. A win in the group is awarded €800,000 and a draw is worth €400,000. In addition, UEFA pays teams reaching the first knockout round €3 million, each quarter finalist €3.3 million, €4.2 million for each semi-finalist, €5.6 million for the runners-up and €9 million for the winners.[44]

A large part of the distributed revenue from the UEFA Champions League is linked to the "market pool", the distribution of which is determined by the value of the television market in each country. For the 2010-11 season, Manchester United, who lost the final, earned nearly €53.2 million in total, compared with the €51.0 million earned by Barcelona, who won the tournament.[45]

Sponsorship

Like the FIFA World Cup, the UEFA Champions League is sponsored by a group of multinational corporations, in contrast to the single main sponsor of the Barclays Premier League, the Ligue 1, the Liga BBVA or Serie A TIM. When the Champions League was created in 1992, it was decided that a maximum of eight companies should be allowed to sponsor the event, with each corporation being allocated four advertising boards around the perimeter of the pitch, as well as logo placement at pre- and post-match interviews and a certain number of tickets to each match. This, combined with a deal to ensure tournament sponsors were given priority on television advertisements during matches, ensured that each of the tournament's main sponsors was given maximum exposure.[46]

The advertising boards are a source of criticism, due to their larger size compared to those in other leagues such as the Premier League. Their larger size means that, at some grounds, such as Celtic Park, Old Trafford, Anfield and Stamford Bridge, the front rows of seating cannot be used as their views of the pitch are blocked by the extreme size of the boards; accordingly, some season ticket holders are not guaranteed tickets for games and have to sit in seats other than their usual ones for games. Additionally, some stadia use the flat area in front of the front rows of seating for wheelchairs and disabled seating, so the boards drastically reduce these grounds' disabled supporter capacity.

The Champions League logo is shown on the centre of the pitch before every game in the competition

The tournament's current main sponsors are:

  • Ford
  • Heineken (excluding Norway, Spain, France, Switzerland and Russia, where alcohol sponsorship is restricted. In Norway the Heineken adboard is replaced by a chalk art picture adboard, In Spain, France, and Switzerland the Heineken adboard is replaced by a "open your world" adboard and in Russia the Heineken adboard is replaced by a "No To Racism" adboard)
  • MasterCard
  • Sony Ericsson
  • Sony Europe[47]
  • Sony Computer Entertainment Europe[48]
  • UniCredit[49]

Adidas is a secondary sponsor and supplies the official match ball, as they do for all other UEFA competitions. Konami's Pro Evolution Soccer is also a secondary sponsor as the official Champions League video game.

Individual clubs may wear jerseys with advertising, even if such sponsors conflict with those of the Champions League. However, only one sponsorship is permitted per jersey (plus that of the manufacturer), and if clubs play a match in a country where the relevant sponsorship category is restricted (such as the case of France, alcohol, and betting), then they must remove that logo from their jerseys.

Media coverage

The competition attracts an extensive television audience, not just in Europe, but throughout the world. The matches are broadcast in over 70 countries with commentaries in more than 40 languages each year.[citation needed] With an estimated audience of 109 million people, the 2009 Champions League final surpassed that year's Super Bowl (106 million viewers) for the first time as the most-watched annual single sport event in the world.[50]

Records and statistics

By club

Club Won Runner-up Years won Years runner-up
Spain Real Madrid 9 3 1956, 1957, 1958, 1959, 1960, 1966, 1998, 2000, 2002 1962, 1964, 1981
Italy Milan 7 4 1963, 1969, 1989, 1990, 1994, 2003, 2007 1958, 1993, 1995, 2005
England Liverpool 5 2 1977, 1978, 1981, 1984, 2005 1985, 2007
Germany Bayern Munich 4 4 1974, 1975, 1976, 2001 1982, 1987, 1999, 2010
Spain Barcelona 4 3 1992, 2006, 2009, 2011 1961, 1986, 1994
Netherlands Ajax 4 2 1971, 1972, 1973, 1995 1969, 1996
Italy Internazionale
3
2
1964, 1965, 2010 1967, 1972
England Manchester United 3 2 1968, 1999, 2008 2009, 2011
Portugal Benfica 2 5 1961, 1962 1963, 1965, 1968, 1988, 1990
Italy Juventus 2 5 1985, 1996 1973, 1983, 1997, 1998, 2003
England Nottingham Forest 2 0 1979, 1980
Portugal Porto 2 0 1987, 2004
Scotland Celtic 1 1 1967 1970
Germany Hamburg 1 1 1983 1980
Romania Steaua Bucureşti 1 1 1986 1989
France Marseille 1 1 1993 1991
Netherlands Feyenoord 1 0 1970
England Aston Villa 1 0 1982
Netherlands PSV Eindhoven 1 0 1988
Socialist Federal Republic of Yugoslavia Red Star Belgrade 1 0 1991
Germany Borussia Dortmund 1 0 1997
France Stade de Reims 0 2 1956, 1959
Spain Valencia 0 2 2000, 2001
Italy Fiorentina 0 1 1957
Germany Eintracht Frankfurt 0 1 1960
Socialist Federal Republic of Yugoslavia Partizan 0 1 1966
Greece Panathinaikos 0 1 1971
Spain Atlético Madrid 0 1 1974
England Leeds United 0 1 1975
France Saint-Étienne 0 1 1976
Germany Borussia Mönchengladbach 0 1 1977
Belgium Club Brugge 0 1 1978
Sweden Malmö 0 1 1979
Italy Roma 0 1 1984
Italy Sampdoria 0 1 1992
Germany Bayer Leverkusen 0 1 2002
France Monaco 0 1 2004
England Arsenal 0 1 2006
England Chelsea 0 1 2008

See also

  • UEFA Women's Champions League
  • UEFA Europa League

References

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