The UEFA Cup
Conceived in 1955 and originally known as the Inter-Cities Fairs Cup, the UEFA Cup (now known as the UEFA Europa League) is the second most important competition for European club teams, after the UEFA Champions League, and is contested annually.
UEFA Cup History
The Inter-Cities Fairs Cup was so named because only European cities that hosted trade fairs were eligible, with teams being formed under their respective city name. This trend eventually changed to clubs-only in the mid-1960s as more and more clubs took part; it was then subsequently renamed to the European Fairs Cup. Qualification was determined on how the club fared over their previous domestic season.
It wasn’t until the 1971/1972 season, however, that all association with trade fairs was dropped and the competition became known as the UEFA Cup. Tottenham Hotspur won the first UEFA Cup in 1971/1972. Previously, no two teams from the same city could quality for the UEFA Cup; a quirk that was rescinded in 1975 on appeal by English side, Everton, due to Liverpool edging them out.
The merging of the UEFA Cup with the Cup Winners' Cup in 1999 also made it possible for winners of domestic cup competitions, as well as runners up, to enter.
UEFA Cup Qualification
Places in the UEFA Cup are generally awarded to competition cup winners and teams who finish in various runners-up places in the top leagues of Europe. There may be more or less teams from any given country depending on team successes.
Qualification of both UEFA competitions is fairly complicated, with different methods of qualification depending on the standing of the winner and domestic cup competition regards the runner up. An example of qualification for an English team could be the winners of the League Cup and FA Cup qualifying, as well as the team finishing 5th in the Premiership.
The FA Cup winner may not automatically qualify for the Champions League, owing to its league position, but if it does, the FA Cup runner-up goes to the UEFA Cup; however, the League Cup runner-up will not. Furthermore, if the League Cup winners have qualified for European play, either by league position or through the FA Cup, then 6th and 7th Premiership teams may enter, to boot.
Unlike the world cup, the previous winners of the UEFA Cup do not necessarily have automatic qualification for the current UEFA Cup or UEFA Champions League, although they may be admitted at the request of the club association.
UEFA Cup Competition Format
Ties and finals were originally two-legged, yet this rule was altered in 1998 for the final to be a one-off match; however, ties remain two-legged.
The original format of the UEFA Cup featured one qualifying round, followed by a series of knockout rounds. The 16 losers in the Champions League third qualifying round could enter the first round proper of the UEFA Cup, while later in the competition, the survivors would be met by third-place finishers in the group phase of the Champions League.
The UEFA Cup has a new format that was introduced in the 2004/2005 season, where two qualifying rounds were featured instead of one. Forty survivors after the first round proper are now grouped into eight groups of five each. Each club plays two home and away games, unlike the Champions League group phase, with the top three teams in each group going on.
They then meet the eight, third-place teams in the Champions League group phase. Knockout play resumes after this point, where two-legged ties lead to the one-off final.
Country Performance Tally
UEFA Cup Final Ticket
|England||10||6||Liverpool (3), Leeds United (2), Tottenham Hotspur (2), Arsenal, Ipswich Town, Newcastle United|
|Italy||10||6||Inter Milan (3), Juventus (3), Parma (2), Napoli, Roma|
|Spain||9||8||Barcelona (3), Valencia (3), Real Madrid (2), Real Zaragoza|
|Germany||6||8||Borussia Mönchengladbach (2), Bayer Leverkusen, Bayern Munich, Eintracht Frankfurt, Schalke 04|
|Netherlands||4||2||Feyenoord (2), Ajax, PSV Eindhoven|
|Sweden||2||0||IFK Göteborg (2)|
|Russia||1||0||Zenit St. Petersburg|