UEFA Cup


UEFA Cup

infobox football tournament

current = UEFA Cup 2008–09
founded = 1971
region = Europe (UEFA)
number of teams = 80 (First round)
+8 clubs join after Champions League group stage [The top three teams in each group advance to the round of 32, where they are joined by the eight third-place teams in the Champions League group phase.]
157 (Total)
current champions = flagicon|RUS Zenit St. Petersburg
most successful club = flagicon|Italy Juventus
flagicon|Italy Internazionale
(3 time champions, 1 time runners-up)
The UEFA Cup is a football competition for European club teams, organised by the Union of European Football Associations (UEFA). It is the second most important international competition for European football clubs, after the UEFA Champions League. Clubs qualify for the UEFA Cup based on their performance in national leagues and cup competitions. This competition will be rebranded as the UEFA Europa League.cite web|url=http://news.bbc.co.uk/sport1/hi/football/europe/7637600.stm|title=Uefa Cup gets new name in revamp |accessdate=2008-09-26 |work=bbc.co.uk] cite web|url= http://www.uefa.com/uefa/keytopics/kind=64/newsid=754085.html |title=UEFA Cup to become UEFA Europa League |accessdate=2008-09-26 |work=uefa.com] come July 2009.

The competition began in 1971 and replaced the Inter-Cities Fairs Cup. In 1999, the UEFA Cup Winners' Cup was abolished and merged with the UEFA Cup. [cite web|url= http://www.uefa.com/competitions/uefacup/history/index.html|title=UEFA Cup History |accessdate=2008-04-27 |work=UEFA.com]

Zenit St. Petersburg are the current holders of the UEFA Cup, having beaten Rangers in the 2008 final on 14 May 2008. The 2009 UEFA Cup Final will be played at the Şükrü Saracoğlu Stadium, home ground of Fenerbahçe, in Istanbul, Turkey, on 20 May 2009.

History

The UEFA Cup was first played in the 1971-72 season, with English team Tottenham Hotspur F.C. being the first winner. The 'one club per city' rule, inherited from the Inter-Cities Fairs Cup, was dropped in 1975. English club Everton F.C. had finished fourth in the English league and could thus qualify but were barred from entry because city rivals Liverpool F.C. had also qualified by coming second. Everton appealed, saying the rule was an unfair anachronism, and UEFA agreed to overturn it.

The competition was traditionally open to the runners-up of domestic leagues, but the competition was merged with UEFA's previous second-tier European competition, the UEFA Cup Winners' Cup, in 1999. Since then, the winners of domestic cup competitions have also entered the UEFA Cup. Also, clubs eliminated in the third qualifying round of the UEFA Champions League and the third placed teams at the end of the group phase could go on to compete in the UEFA Cup. Also admitted to the competition are three Fair Play representatives, eleven UEFA Intertoto Cup winners, and winners of some selected domestic League Cup competitions.

The winners keep the trophy for a year before returning it to UEFA. After its return, the club can keep a four-fifths scale replica of the original trophy. The regulations also state that the original trophy is awarded to any club that wins the UEFA Cup three times in a row or five times overall, though this has yet to occur as of 2008.

Four teams have won the UEFA Cup as well as their domestic league and cup competitions in the same season, those being IFK Göteborg in 1982, Galatasaray in 2000, Porto in 2003 and CSKA Moscow in 2005. This accomplishment is known as a Treble. In addition, Ajax and Galatasaray are the only two teams to have won the cup without suffering a single loss in their campaign.

From the 2009–10 season onwards, the competition will be known as the UEFA Europa League.

Qualification

Qualification for the competition is based on UEFA coefficients, with more places being offered to the more successful nations. Usually, places are awarded to teams who finish in various runners-up places in the top-flight leagues of Europe and the winners of the main cup competitions. A few countries have secondary cup competitions but the only countries which currently grant a UEFA Cup place to their secondary cup winners are England and France and Spain Copa del Rey.

If the previous UEFA Cup title-holders are not eligible to take part in either of the current UEFA club competitions (UEFA Champions League or UEFA Cup) by virtue of their domestic form, the UEFA Administration may, at the request of the association of the club concerned, admit this club to the current UEFA Cup competition. Its participation will not be at the expense of the contingent of its association.

Qualification can be quite complicated if one team qualifies for European competition through two different routes. In all cases, if a club is eligible to enter the UEFA Champions League then the Champions League place takes precedence and the club does not enter the UEFA Cup. The UEFA Cup place is then granted to another club. If a team qualifies for European competition through both winning a cup and league placing, the "spare" UEFA Cup place will go to either the cup runners-up or the highest placed league team which has not already qualified for European competition, depending on the rules of the national association.

Qualification for the UEFA Cup can also be attained in two other ways:
*The eleven winners in the third round of the UEFA Intertoto Cup enter the UEFA Cup at the second qualifying round stage from the 2006-07 season.
*Three more berths are given to federations that finish above a certain level in UEFA's Fair Play table. The top-placed federation automatically receives a Fair Play entry and two other federations gain berths via a draw among all other federations that meet qualifying criteria. In all cases, the recipient of a country's Fair Play entry is the highest-placed team in the Fair Play table of that country's top league that has not already qualified for Europe.

More recently, clubs that are knocked out of the qualifying round and the group stage of the Champions League can also join the UEFA Cup, at different stages (see below).

Competition format

The current competition format was first adopted for the 2004-05 season. The major change was the introduction of a group stage and two qualifying rounds instead of one. Additional changes were introduced for 2006-07 season due to the changes in the UEFA Intertoto Cup format. UEFA will change the format to have twelve groups of four teams in the second round instead of the current eight groups of five teams, starting in the season 2009/2010. [ [http://www.uefa.com/uefa/keytopics/kind=64/newsid=630602.html uefa.com ] ]

Historical formats

The competition was traditionally a pure knockout tournament. All ties were two-legged, including the final. Starting with the 1998 event, the final became a one-off match, but all other ties remained two-legged.

Before the 2004-05 season, the tournament consisted of one qualifying round, followed by a series of knockout rounds. The 16 losers in the third qualifying round of the Champions League entered at the first round proper; later in the tournament, the survivors would be joined by third-place finishers in the group phase of the Champions League.

Current format

The UEFA Cup starts with two knockout qualifying rounds held in July and August. Participants from associations ranked 18 and lower enter the first qualifying round, and participants from associations ranked 9-18 join them in the second qualifying round. In addition, three places in the first qualifying round are reserved for the Fair Play winners, and eleven places in the second qualifying round are reserved for the UEFA Intertoto Cup winners.

Winners of the qualifying rounds join teams from the associations ranked 1-13 in the first round proper. In addition, losers in the third qualifying round of the Champions League also enter this round, and another place is reserved for the title-holders. There are 80 teams total in this round.

After the first round proper, the 40 survivors enter a group phase, with the clubs being drawn into eight groups of five each. Unlike the Champions League group phase, the UEFA Cup group phase is played in a single round-robin format, with each club playing two home and two away games. The top three teams in each of the eight groups advance, 24 in total, where they are joined by the eight third-place teams in the Champions League group phase.

After the group stage there is a winter break. From this point, knockout play resumes, with two-legged ties leading to the one-off final, which is held at a neutral ground meeting UEFA's criteria for a .

Seeding is used to protect stronger teams in the qualifying rounds, first round and group stage.

Most ties are played on Thursdays, with a minority played on Wednesdays.

New format in 2009-10

From the 2009-10 season, the competition will be rebranded as the UEFA Europa League in a bid to increase the competition's profile.

A new format for the UEFA Europa League will be introduced for the three-year cycle, starting in the 2009-10 season. The biggest change is that there will be a group stage with 12 groups of four teams (in a double round robin) instead of eight groups of five (in a single round robin). Apart from that, the qualification will change significantly.Associations ranked 7-9 in the UEFA coefficients will send the Cup winner and 3 other teams to the UEFA Europa League qualification, all other nations send a Cup winner and 2 other teams, except Liechtenstein, Andorra and San Marino, who will only send a Cup winner. Usually, the other teams will be the next highest ranked clubs in each domestic league after those participating in the Champions League, however France and England will most likely continue to use one spot for their League Cup winner. Additionally, 3 places in the first of four qualifying rounds are still reserved for Fair Play winners.

Generally, the higher an association is ranked in the UEFA coefficients, the later its clubs start in the qualification, however every team except the title holder has to play at least one qualification round.

Apart from the teams mentioned, an additional 15 losing teams from the Champions League qualification round 2 will enter in the fourth and last UEFA Europa League qualification round, formerly known as the first round, and the 10 losers of the Champions League qualification round 3 will directly enter the UEFA Europa League group stage. The 12 winners and the 12 runners-up in the group stage will advance to the first knock out round, together with 8 3rd placed teams from the Champions League.

Like the UEFA Cup, the Intertoto Cup will be folded into the UEFA Europa League, much like the Cup Winners' Cup had been in the late 1990s.

Cup winners who have already qualified for European competition via league placing will no longer hand their UEFA Europa League slot to the losing finalist. Their place in the competition will instead devolve onto the highest-placed team in the league not yet in European competition.

UEFA Cup champions

The UEFA Cup finals were played over two legs until 1997. The first final was played on 3 May 1972 in Wolverhampton and 17 May 1972 in London. The first leg between Wolverhampton Wanderers and Tottenham Hotspur was won 2–1 by the away side. The second leg finished as a 1–1 draw, meaning that Tottenham Hotspur became the first UEFA Cup champions.

The one-match finals in pre-selected venues were introduced in 1998. A venue must meet or exceed UEFA 4-star standards to host UEFA Cup finals. On two occasions, the final was played at a finalist's home ground: Feyenoord defeated Borussia Dortmund at De Kuip, Rotterdam in 2002, and Sporting CP lost to CSKA Moscow at their own José Alvalade Stadium, Lisbon in 2005.

The 2009 UEFA Cup Final will be played at the Şükrü Saracoğlu Stadium, Istanbul.

Records and statistics

ee also

* List of UEFA Cup winning managers

Notes and references

External links

* [http://www.uefa.com/Competitions/UefaCup/index.html Official UEFA Cup website]
* [http://www.xs4all.nl/~kassiesa/bert/uefa/ UEFA European Cup Football] - independent site with regularly updated statistics including club and country rankings, tournament seedings, and match results.


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