The UEFA Europa League /juːˈeɪfə jʊˈroʊpə ˈliːɡ/, previously called the UEFA Cup /juːˈeɪfə ˈkʌp/, is an annual association football cup competition organised by UEFA since 1971 for eligible European football clubs. It is the second most prestigious European club football contest after the UEFA Champions League. Clubs qualify for the competition based on their performance in their national leagues and cup competitions.
Previously called the UEFA Cup, the competition has been known as the UEFA Europa League since the 2009–10 season, following a change in format. For UEFA footballing records purposes, the UEFA Cup and UEFA Europa League are considered the same competition, with the change of name being simply a rebranding.
In 1999, the UEFA Cup Winners' Cup was abolished and merged with the UEFA Cup. For the 2004–05 competition a group stage was added prior to the knock out stage. The 2009 rebranding included a merge with the UEFA Intertoto Cup, producing an enlarged competition format, with an expanded group stage and changed qualifying criteria. The winner of the UEFA Europa League qualifies for the UEFA Super Cup.
The title has been won by 26 different clubs, 12 of which have won the title more than once. The most successful clubs in the competition are Juventus, Internazionale and Liverpool with three titles apiece. Since the tournament changed name and structure in 2009, no club has managed consecutive wins.
Famous quotes containing the word cup:
“Sisters define their rivalry in terms of competition for the gold cup of parental love. It is never perceived as a cup which runneth over, rather a finite vessel from which the more one sister drinks, the less is left for the others.”
—Elizabeth Fishel (20th century)