The UEFA Europa League, formerly known as the UEFA Cup, is an annual club football competition organized by the Association of European Football Associations (UEFA). It is the second-tier tournament in European club football, after the UEFA Champions League. Let’s take a look at the history of the UEFA Europa League.
Origins: The UEFA Europa League was founded in 1971 as the successor to the Intercity Fairs Cup, which has been held since 1955. The Intercity Fairs Cup was originally created to promote international fairs but has gradually become a prestigious football tournament.
Format changes: The match initially followed an elimination format with home and away matches being played. In 1999 the tournament was expanded to include a group stage similar to the Champions League, allowing more clubs to participate.
Rebranding as the UEFA Europa League: In 2009, the UEFA Cup was rebranded as the UEFA Europa League to increase the competition’s profile and appeal. Along with the name change, the tournament received a new logo and a revised format.
Qualification: The UEFA Europa League involves teams from across Europe who qualify through their domestic league positions. The number of teams each country can send to the tournament depends on the UEFA coefficient ranking, which determines the strength of each nation’s league.
Group stage: The competition begins with a group stage with 48 teams divided into 12 groups of four. Teams play head-to-head and away as they advance to the knockout stage with the top two from each group.
Qualifying stage: After the group stage, the remaining teams enter a qualifying stage that includes rounds of 32, 16, quarterfinals, and semifinals. These rounds are played over two rounds, home and away, and generally, the team scoring the most goals advances to the next round. In the event of a tie overall, the away goals rule applies, followed by overtime and penalties if necessary.
Final: The UEFA Europa League Final is the only match played at a predetermined neutral ground. The winning team qualifies for next season’s UEFA Champions League, and in recent years they have also contested the UEFA Super Cup against Champions League winners.
Historic success: Several clubs have enjoyed success in the UEFA Europa League over the years. Multiple winners include Sevilla, who won the tournament a record seven times between 2006 and 2023, and Juventus, Inter Milan, Liverpool, and Atlético Madrid, who each won the competition three times.
The UEFA Europa League, which has grown in popularity and importance over the years, offers teams across Europe the opportunity to compete at a high level and achieve success on the continent.