UEFA Champions League

2008/9 Schools Wikipedia Selection. Related subjects: Sports events

UEFA Champions League

Founded 1955
Region Europe ( UEFA)
Number of teams 32 (group stage)
76 or 77(total)
Current champions Flag of Italy AC Milan (7th time)
Most successful club Flag of Spain Real Madrid (9 times)
Television broadcasters List of broadcasters
Motto Champions League Hymn
2007-08 Champions League

The UEFA Champions League is a seasonal club football competition organised by one of the Union of European Football Associations (UEFA) since 1955 for the most successful football clubs in Europe. The prize, the European Champion Clubs' Cup, is considered the most prestigious club trophy in the sport.

The UEFA Champions League is separate from the less prestigious UEFA Cup and the defunct Cup Winners' Cup.

The tournament consists of several stages. In the present format it begins in mid-July with three preliminary knockout qualifying rounds. The 16 surviving teams join 16 seeded teams in a group stage. Eight group winners and eight runners-up enter the final knockout rounds, which end with the final match in May.

The current holders of the UEFA Champions League trophy are AC Milan, who beat Liverpool FC 2-1 at the Olympic Stadium in Athens, Greece on 23 May 2007.

Moscow will host its first European Cup final for the 2007-08 season.

History

The 2006-07 champion's league final matched AC Milan against Liverpool
The 2006-07 champion's league final matched AC Milan against Liverpool

The tournament was inaugurated in 1955, at the suggestion of the French sports journalist and editor of L'Équipe Gabriel Hanot, as a continental competition for winners of the European national football leagues, as the European Champion Clubs' Cup, abbreviated to European Cup.

The competition began in 1955/56 using a two-leg knockout format where the teams would play two matches, one at home and one away, and the team with the highest overall score qualifying for the next round of the competition. Entry was restricted to the teams that won their national league championships, plus the current European Cup holder. This qualification system continued until 1992. In the 1992–93 season, the tournament was renamed to UEFA Champions League and in 1997/98, eligibility was expanded to include not just domestic champions but also the best performing runners up according to UEFA's coefficient ranking list. In UEFA's coefficient system, a team finishing second in the Spanish La Liga would be more deserving of an automatic place in the Champions League than a team finishing first in, for example, Polish Orange Ekstraklasa. As a result, the system was restructured to force "weaker" national champions to qualify for the group stages, while other, "stronger" national runners-up would automatically get places.

Between 1960 and 2004 the winner of the tournament qualified for the now defunct Intercontinental Cup (against the winner of the Copa Libertadores of South America). Since then, with FIFA taking over, the winner automatically qualifies for the FIFA Club World Cup with other winners of continental club championships.

Qualification

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

The UEFA Champions league is open to the league champions of all UEFA member associations (except Liechtenstein, which has no league competition), as well as to the clubs finishing from second to fourth position in the strongest leagues. Since January 2007 the two lowest-ranked league competitions (currently the Andorra and San Marino leagues) can also represent their domestic champions in the Champions League.

The number of places in the competition depends on the association's rank in the UEFA coefficients table:

  • associations ranked 1 to 3 have four positions,
  • associations ranked 4 to 6 have three positions,
  • associations ranked 7 to 15 have two positions,
  • associations ranked 16 or lower have one position.

An association's rank also determines the stage at which the clubs enter the competition. For example, the three highest-ranked associations have two places in the group stage (for champions and runners-up) and two in the third qualifying round (for third and fourth-placed teams), whereas the lowest-ranked associations have only one place in the first qualifying round for their champions. Nine highest-ranked associations have at least one automatic place in the group stage.

An additional place in the group stage is reserved for the title-holders, in case they don't qualify via their domestic league. However, an association is limited to sending at most four clubs for a season. This means that if the title-holders come from a league given four positions, but finish out of the top four, it will take the place of the fourth placed team. The fourth placed team will go to the UEFA Cup. The similar rule is applied for leagues given two or three positions (then second/third placed team is transferred to the UEFA Cup), but not for associations entitled to only one position - champion always takes a part! That's why total number of teams is not fixed. However this is not always the case as seen in 2005. Liverpool won the Champions League in dramatic fashion in Istanbul however domestically finished in 5th position and just outside the final Champions league spot whom bitter rivals Everton occupied. UEFA though granted permission for Everton to take part in the Champions League and join in the third round of qualifying. Liverpool were also granted permission to take part in the competition however had to start from the first round of qualifying.

At meeting in Lucerne, 30th of November 2007, UEFA decided to indroduce new qualification system for period 2009-2012 which will give automatic qualifying berth to the group stage for 22 teams instead 16 (6 new entrants: 3-rd placed teams from associations 1-3 + champions from associations 10-12). Remaining 10 teams will be given through a double qualification path: one reserved for the champions of the associations ranked 13 or lower, and one reserved for non-champions of associations ranked 1-15. Both paths will be held independently to each other and each will be given by 5 winners - last participants in group stage. The main idea was to enable champions coming from low-ranked associations much easier access to the main tournament through their head-to-head matches than through matches against non-champions from high-ranked associations which failed to qualify directly for group stage through their domestic 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, club must meet certain stadium, infrastructure and finance requirements.

There was controversy when Liverpool won the competition in 2004/2005, but finished outside the top four in the Premiership. The Football Association ruled that Everton F.C. (who finished fourth) would get the final spot. However, UEFA came to an agreement that both Merseyside rivals would be allowed to enter the competition with Liverpool starting from the first qualifying round and Everton starting from the third qualifying round. Liverpool became the first team to negotiate all three rounds of qualification and reach the Champions League group phase, a feat matched by Artmedia Bratislava of Slovakia in the same season.

FC Barcelona, Manchester United and FC Porto are the teams that have appeared most often in the group stages: thirteen each. However, each has won the Champions League only once since the group stage was established.

The stages

The UEFA Champions League trophy, nicknamed "the big-ears cup".
The UEFA Champions League trophy, nicknamed "the big-ears cup".

The tournament consists of several stages and begins with three preliminary knockout qualifying rounds. Different teams start in different rounds, according to their position in domestic league and the UEFA coefficients of their league, while the sixteen top ranked teams spread across the biggest domestic leagues qualify directly.

In the subsequent preliminary round, participating teams are paired, with aggregate winners proceeding into the next round. Qualifying rounds span from mid-July to late August. The losers of the third qualifying round are transferred to the UEFA Cup, while the sixteen winners of the final qualifying round are joined by the sixteen teams who have qualified directly, to participate in the group stage.

Teams are drawn into eight groups of four teams, each team playing every other team in the group twice (home and away). The group stage is played between mid-September and early December. The teams finishing third in their groups are transferred to the UEFA Cup, while the top two teams from every group qualify for the next round. Here the sixteen remaining teams take part in the knock-out stage, which starts in late February and ends with the final match in May.

All qualifying rounds and knock-out ties are two-legged, with each team hosting one match. The team which scores the greater aggregate number of goals qualifies for the next round. The away goals rule applies. Extra time and penalty kicks are used to determine the winner, if necessary. An exception is the final, which is a single match played at a predetermined venue.

The draws are currently structured to ensure that clubs representing the same national association cannot play each other until the quarter-finals. This rule however was lifted for Liverpool's entry in 2006, as England had 5 representatives in the competition. As a result Liverpool were drawn against Chelsea in the group stages. In addition, seeding of the teams according to their UEFA coefficients is used. The competition system has been undergoing changes since the 1991-92 season (see history). The current system was adopted in 2003.

Champions League finals

The Champions League final is the most important match of the season in European club football. The stadium to host the final is selected by UEFA two years before the match.

Season Winner Score Runner-up Venue
1955–56
Final
Real Madrid C.F. Flag of Spain 4–3 Flag of France Stade de Reims Parc des Princes,
Paris Flag of France
1956–57
Final
Real Madrid C.F. Flag of Spain 2–0 Flag of Italy ACF Fiorentina Santiago Bernabéu,
Madrid Flag of Spain
1957–58
Final
Real Madrid C.F. Flag of Spain 3–2 a.e.t. Flag of Italy A.C. Milan Heysel Stadium,
Brussels Belgium">Flag of Belgium
1958–59
Final
Real Madrid C.F. Flag of Spain 2–0 Flag of France Stade de Reims Neckarstadion,
Stuttgart Flag of West Germany
1958–59
Final
Real Madrid C.F. Flag of Spain 7–3 Flag of West Germany Eintracht Frankfurt Hampden Park,
Glasgow Flag of Scotland
1960–61
Final
S.L. Benfica Portugal">Flag of Portugal 3–2 Flag of Spain FC Barcelona Wankdorf Stadium,
Berne Flag of Switzerland
1961–62
Final
S.L. Benfica Flag of Portugal 5–3 Flag of Spain Real Madrid C.F. Olympisch Stadion,
Amsterdam Flag of the Netherlands
1962–63
Final
A.C. Milan Flag of Italy 2–1 Flag of Portugal S.L. Benfica Wembley Stadium,
London Flag of England
1963–64
Final
F.C. Internazionale Milano Flag of Italy 3–1 Flag of Spain Real Madrid C.F. Prater Stadium,
Vienna Flag of Austria
1964–65
Final
F.C. Internazionale Milano Flag of Italy 1–0 Flag of Portugal S.L. Benfica San Siro,
Milan Flag of Italy
1965–66
Final
Real Madrid C.F. Flag of Spain 2–1 Flag of Yugoslavia FK Partizan Heysel Stadium,
Brussels Flag of Belgium
1966–67
Final
Celtic F.C. Flag of Scotland 2–1 Flag of Italy F.C. Internazionale Milano Estádio Nacional,
Oeiras Flag of Portugal
1967–68
Final
Manchester United F.C. Flag of England 4–1 a.e.t. Flag of Portugal S.L. Benfica Wembley Stadium,
London Flag of England
1968–69
Final
A.C. Milan Flag of Italy 4–1 Flag of the Netherlands AFC Ajax Santiago Bernabéu,
Madrid Flag of Spain
1969–70
Final
Feyenoord Flag of the Netherlands 2–1 a.e.t. Flag of Scotland Celtic F.C. San Siro,
Milan Flag of Italy
1970–71
Final
AFC Ajax Flag of the Netherlands 2–0 Flag of Greece Panathinaikos FC Wembley Stadium,
London Flag of England
1971–72
Final
AFC Ajax Flag of the Netherlands 2–0 Flag of Italy F.C. Internazionale Milano De Kuip,
Rotterdam Flag of the Netherlands
1972–73
Final
AFC Ajax Flag of the Netherlands 1–0 Flag of Italy Juventus F.C. Red Star Stadium,
Belgrade Flag of Yugoslavia
1973–74
Final
FC Bayern Munich Flag of West Germany 1–1 a.e.t.,
4 – 0 replay
Flag of Spain Atlético de Madrid Heysel Stadium,
Brussels Flag of Belgium
1974–75
Final
FC Bayern Munich Flag of West Germany 2–0 Flag of England Leeds United A.F.C. Parc des Princes,
Paris Flag of France
1975–76
Final
FC Bayern Munich Flag of West Germany 1–0 Flag of France AS Saint-Étienne Hampden Park,
Glasgow Flag of Scotland
1976–77
Final
Liverpool F.C. Flag of England 3–1 Flag of West Germany Borussia Mönchengladbach Stadio Olimpico,
Rome Flag of Italy
1977–78
Final
Liverpool F.C. Flag of England 1–0 Flag of Belgium Club Brugge K.V. Wembley Stadium,
London Flag of England
1978–79
Final
Nottingham Forest F.C. Flag of England 1–0 Flag of Sweden Malmö FF Olympic Stadium,
Munich Flag of West Germany
1979–80
Final
Nottingham Forest F.C. Flag of England 1–0 Flag of West Germany Hamburger SV Santiago Bernabéu,
Madrid Flag of Spain
1980–81
Final
Liverpool F.C. Flag of England 1–0 Flag of Spain Real Madrid C.F. Parc des Princes,
Paris Flag of France
1981–82
Final
Aston Villa F.C. Flag of England 1–0 Flag of West Germany FC Bayern Munich De Kuip,
Rotterdam Flag of the Netherlands
1982–83
Final
Hamburger SV Flag of West Germany 1–0 Flag of Italy Juventus F.C. Olympic Stadium Spiros Louis,
Athens Flag of Greece
1983–84
Final
Liverpool F.C. Flag of England 1–1 a.e.t.,
4–2 pen.
Flag of Italy A.S. Roma Stadio Olimpico,
Rome Flag of Italy
1984–85
Final
Juventus F.C. Flag of Italy 1–0
(see: Heysel Stadium Disaster)
Flag of England Liverpool F.C. Heysel Stadium,
Brussels Flag of Belgium
1985–86
Final
FC Steaua Bucureşti Flag of Romania 0–0 a.e.t.,
2–0 pen.
Flag of Spain FC Barcelona Sánchez Pizjuán,
Seville Flag of Spain
1986–87
Final
F.C. Porto Flag of Portugal 2–1 Flag of West Germany FC Bayern Munich Prater Stadium,
Vienna Flag of Austria
1987–88
Final
PSV Eindhoven Flag of the Netherlands 0–0 a.e.t.,
6–5 pen.
Flag of Portugal S.L. Benfica Neckarstadion,
Stuttgart Flag of West Germany
1988–89
Final
A.C. Milan Flag of Italy 4–0 Flag of Romania FC Steaua Bucureşti Camp Nou,
Barcelona Flag of Spain
1989–90
Final
A.C. Milan Flag of Italy 1–0 Flag of Portugal S.L. Benfica Prater Stadium,
Vienna Flag of Austria
1990–91
Final
Red Star Belgrade Flag of Yugoslavia 0–0 a.e.t.,
5–3 pen.
Flag of France Olympique de Marseille Stadio San Nicola,
Bari Flag of Italy
1991–92
Final
FC Barcelona Flag of Spain 1–0 a.e.t. Flag of Italy U.C. Sampdoria Wembley Stadium,
London Flag of England
1992–93
Final
Olympique de Marseille Flag of France 1–0 Flag of Italy A.C. Milan Olympic Stadium,
Munich Flag of Germany
1993–94
Final
A.C. Milan Flag of Italy 4–0 Flag of Spain FC Barcelona Olympic Stadium Spiros Louis,
Athens Flag of Greece
1994–95
Final
AFC Ajax Flag of the Netherlands 1–0 Flag of Italy A.C. Milan Ernst Happel Stadium,
Vienna Flag of Austria
1995–96
Final
Juventus F.C. Flag of Italy 1–1 a.e.t.,
4–2 pen.
Flag of the Netherlands AFC Ajax Stadio Olimpico,
Rome Flag of Italy
1996–97
Final
Borussia Dortmund Flag of Germany 3–1 Flag of Italy Juventus F.C. Olympic Stadium,
Munich Flag of Germany
1997–98
Final
Real Madrid C.F. Flag of Spain 1–0 Flag of Italy Juventus F.C. Amsterdam ArenA,
Amsterdam Flag of the Netherlands
1998–99
Final
Manchester United F.C. Flag of England 2–1 Flag of Germany FC Bayern Munich Camp Nou,
Barcelona Flag of Spain
1999–00
Final
Real Madrid C.F. Flag of Spain 3–0 Flag of Spain Valencia CF Stade de France,
Paris Flag of France
2000–01
Final
FC Bayern Munich Flag of Germany 1–1 a.e.t.,
5–4 pen.
Flag of Spain Valencia CF San Siro,
Milan Flag of Italy
2001–02
Final
Real Madrid C.F. Flag of Spain 2–1 Flag of Germany Bayer 04 Leverkusen Hampden Park,
Glasgow Flag of Scotland
2002–03
Final
A.C. Milan Flag of Italy 0–0 a.e.t.,
3–2 pen.
Flag of Italy Juventus F.C. Old Trafford,
Manchester Flag of England
2003–04
Final
F.C. Porto Flag of Portugal 3–0 Flag of France AS Monaco FC Arena AufSchalke,
Gelsenkirchen Flag of Germany
2004–05
Final
Liverpool F.C. Flag of England 3–3 a.e.t.,
3–2 pen.
Flag of Italy A.C. Milan Atatürk Olympic Stadium,
Istanbul Flag of Turkey
2005–06
Final
FC Barcelona Flag of Spain 2–1 Flag of England Arsenal F.C. Stade de France,
Paris Flag of France
2006–07
Final
AC Milan Flag of Italy 2–1 Flag of England Liverpool F.C. Olympic Stadium,
Athens Flag of Greece
2007–08
Final
Manchester United F.C. Flag of England 1–1 a.e.t.,
6–5 pen.
Flag of England Chelsea F.C. Luzhniki Stadium,
Moscow Flag of Russia
2008–09
Final
To be played Stadio Olimpico,
Rome Flag of Italy
2009–10
Final
To be played Santiago Bernabéu,
Madrid Flag of Spain

The winning club gets possession of the trophy at the awards ceremony, but must return it to UEFA headquarters two months before the following year's final. UEFA gives the winners a scaled-down replica of the trophy to keep permanently, and winning clubs are free to make replicas of the trophy as long as they are clearly marked as replicas and are no larger than 80% of the size of the actual trophy. However, the current competition rules also specify that the actual trophy will be permanently awarded to a team that wins three consecutive years or five times in all.

Five clubs have been awarded the UEFA badge of honour and the right to keep the trophy permanently:

  • Real Madrid, who won the first five competitions from 1956 to 1960, and again in 1966, 1998, 2000 and 2002.
  • Ajax, who won consecutively in 1971–1973, and again in 1995.
  • Bayern Munich, who won consecutively in 1974–1976, and again in 2001.
  • AC Milan, who won for the fifth time in 1994, and again in 2003 and 2007 .
  • Liverpool, whose 2005 win was their fifth overall.

The first European Cup/UEFA Champions League final to be competed between two clubs from the same country was in 2000, when Spanish giants Real Madrid and Valencia reached the final. This was followed in 2003 when Italian giants AC Milan and Juventus FC reached the final, making it only two intra-national finals since its inception in 1955.

Records and statistics

Map of UEFA countries, teams from which have 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
Map of UEFA countries, teams from which have 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

By club

Team Won Lost Years Won Years Lost
Flag of Spain Real Madrid CF 9 3 ( 1956, 1957, 1958, 1959, 1960,
1966, 1998, 2000, 2002)
( 1962, 1964, 1981)
Flag of Italy AC Milan 7 4 ( 1963, 1969, 1989, 1990, 1994,
2003, 2007)
( 1958, 1993, 1995,
2005)
Flag of England Liverpool FC 5 2 ( 1977, 1978, 1981, 1984, 2005) ( 1985, 2007)
Flag of Germany FC Bayern München 4 3 ( 1974, 1975, 1976, 2001) ( 1982, 1987, 1999)
Flag of the Netherlands AFC Ajax 4 2 ( 1971, 1972, 1973, 1995) ( 1969, 1996)

By nation

Nation Winners Runners Up Winning Clubs Runners-Up
Flag of Italy Italy 11 14 AC Milan (7), Juventus (2), Internazionale (2) Juventus (5), AC Milan (4), Internazionale (2), Fiorentina (1), Roma (1), Sampdoria (1)
Flag of Spain Spain 11 9 Real Madrid (9), Barcelona (2) Real Madrid (3), Barcelona (3), Valencia (2), Atlético Madrid (1)
Flag of England England 10 4 Liverpool (5), Manchester United (2), Nottingham Forest (2), Aston Villa (1) Liverpool (2), Leeds United (1), Arsenal (1)
Flag of Germany Germany 6 7 Bayern Munich (4), Borussia Dortmund (1), Hamburg (1) Bayern Munich (3), Bayer Leverkusen (1), Borussia Mönchengladbach (1), Eintracht Frankfurt (1), Hamburg (1)
Flag of the Netherlands Netherlands 6 2 AFC Ajax (4), PSV Eindhoven (1), Feyenoord Rotterdam (1) AFC Ajax (2)

All-time top goalscorers

Including qualifying games

Rank Nat. Player Goals Games Debut in Europe Clubs
1 Flag of Spain Raúl 59 116 1995 Real Madrid
2 Flag of the Netherlands Ruud van Nistelrooy 57 76 1997 PSV, Man. United, Real Madrid
3 Flag of Ukraine Andriy Shevchenko 56 102 1994 Dynamo Kyiv, AC Milan, Chelsea
4 Flag of Spain Alfredo Di Stéfano 49 58 1955 Real Madrid
5 Flag of Portugal Eusébio 47 64 1961 Benfica

Players in Bold are still active.

Financial

UEFA Champions League is a highly profitable competition for the clubs that reach the group stage. UEFA distributes part of the revenue obtained from television deals between these clubs. For example, the payments for the 2004/05 competition ranged from €3.8m ( Sparta Prague) to €30.6 million (Liverpool). UEFA estimates the amount of money to be given to the 32 participants of the 2005/06 group stage at €430 million. Clubs make additional money from ticket sales, corporate hospitality, merchandising and so on.

UEFA Champions League has 6 official sponsors at the moment, the most traditional one being Ford Motor Company, who have been sponsoring the competition since the very beginning.

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