UEFA Europa Conference League

Last updated

UEFA Europa Conference League
UEFA Europa Conference League.svg
Organising body UEFA
Founded24 May 2021
RegionEurope
Number of teams32 (group stage) 184 (total) [lower-alpha 1]
Qualifier for UEFA Europa League
Related competitions UEFA Champions League (1st tier)
UEFA Europa League (2nd tier)
Current champions Flag of Italy.svg Roma (1st title)
Most successful club(s) Flag of Italy.svg Roma (1 title)
Television broadcasters List of broadcasters
Website Official website
Soccerball current event.svg 2022–23 UEFA Europa Conference League

The UEFA Europa Conference League (abbreviated as UECL), colloquially referred to as the UEFA Conference League, or the Europa Conference is an annual football club competition organised by the Union of European Football Associations (UEFA) for eligible European football clubs. [1] Clubs qualify for the competition based on their performance in their national leagues and cup competitions. It is the third tier of active European club football competitions, after the Champions League and the Europa League.

Contents

First contested in the 2021–22 season, the competition serves as the bottom level of the Europa League, which was reduced from 48 to 32 teams in the group stage. The competition is primarily contested by teams from lower-ranked UEFA member associations. [1] No teams qualify directly to the group stage, with 10 teams eliminated in the Europa League play-offs and the rest coming from the Europa Conference League qualifiers. The winners of the competition are awarded a position in the Europa League the following season, unless they qualify for the Champions League. [2]

Roma are the inaugural winners of the competition, having beaten Feyenoord 1–0 in the 2022 final.

History

UEFA had reportedly considered adding a third-tier competition since at least 2015, believing that a bottom-level tournament could act as a means of giving clubs from lower-ranked UEFA member countries a chance of progressing beyond their customary elimination from the Champions League and Europa League. [3] In mid-2018, talk of an announcement intensified, with news sources claiming an agreement had already been reached for the competition to be launched and that the 48-team Europa League group stage would be split in two, with the lower half forming the nucleus of what would be the new event. [4]

On 2 December 2018, UEFA announced that the competition – provisionally known as "Europa League 2" or just "UEL2" – was to be launched as part of the 2021–24 three-year competition cycle, with UEFA adding that the new tournament would bring "more matches for more clubs and more associations". [2]

The official name of the competition, "UEFA Europa Conference League", was announced on 24 September 2019. [5]

On 24 May 2021, UEFA revealed the competition's trophy and brand identity. The first ever goal in the Europa Conference League qualifiers was scored on 6 July 2021 by Mosta player Evo Christ in a 2021–22 qualifying round match against Spartak Trnava. [6] The first ever goal in the Europa Conference League group stage was scored on 14 September 2021 by Maccabi Tel Aviv player Stipe Perica in a 2021–22 group stage match against Alashkert. On 30 September 2021, the competition's first ever hat-trick was scored by Harry Kane for Tottenham Hotspur in a group stage match against Mura. Kane came on as a 59th minute substitute at 2–1 before scoring three goals within 20 minutes of each other in order to finish off the game (5–1). [7] On 24 February 2022, PAOK became the first ever team to win a Conference League tie on penalties, after beating Danish side Midtjylland 5–3 in a knockout round play-off match. [8] On 5 May 2022, Feyenoord and Roma became the first teams ever to reach the final of UECL, ending with Roma crowned as the inaugural champions. [9]

Format

Qualification

Map of UEFA associations whose teams reached the group stage of the UEFA Europa Conference League
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UEFA member association that has been represented in the group stage
UEFA member association that has not been represented in the group stage UEFA CL teams.png
Map of UEFA associations whose teams reached the group stage of the UEFA Europa Conference League
  UEFA member association that has been represented in the group stage
  UEFA member association that has not been represented in the group stage

Similar to the UEFA Champions League, qualification to the Europa Conference League is split into two Paths – the Champions Path and the League Path. Unlike the Champions League, however, the Champions Path will only be contested by teams which lost the qualification for the Champions League group stage and consequently have been relegated directly into the UEFA Europa Conference League.

The association ranking based on the UEFA country coefficients is used to determine the number of participating teams in the league path for each association: [10]

Based on this reorganisation, no association will benefit from more berths to continental football than they had before the 2021–24 competition cycle, with the tournament essentially being the lower orders of the existing Europa League tournament but split off into a secondary tournament.

Group stage and knockout phase

The format sees eight groups of four teams, followed by the round of 16, quarter-finals, semi-finals and final. An additional preliminary knockout round is played before the round of 16 between teams ranked second in their groups and the third-ranked teams of the UEFA Europa League groups. The new competition features 141 matches over 15 match weeks. [2] 56 teams take part.

The final is played at a neutral venue. The winner of the competition is entitled to participate in the UEFA Europa League the following season. The competition's matches are played on Thursdays. [2]

Distribution (from 2021–22 to 2023–24)

All qualification berths are based on UEFA's default assumption that each association will submit one domestic cup winner as its highest-ranked qualifier after those eligible to enter the Champions League, and will define its remaining entrants by their league position in the previous year. England allocates its lowest-ranked qualification place to the winners of the EFL Cup or, if it already qualified to Champions League or Europa League, to the sixth or seventh placed in the Premier League.

Teams entering in this roundTeams advancing from previous roundTeams transferred from Champions LeagueTeams transferred from Europa League
First qualifying round
(72 teams)
  • 26 domestic cup winners from associations 30–55
  • 25 domestic league runners-up from associations 30–55 (except Liechtenstein)
  • 21 domestic league third-placed teams from associations 29–50 (except Liechtenstein)
Second qualifying roundChampions
(20 teams)
  • 17 teams eliminated from Champions League first qualifying round
  • 3 teams eliminated from Champions League preliminary round
Non-champions
(90 teams)
  • 14 domestic cup winners from associations 16–29
  • 14 domestic league runners-up from associations 16–29
  • 16 domestic league third-placed teams from associations 13–28
  • 9 domestic league fourth-placed teams from associations 7–15
  • 1 domestic league fifth-placed team from association 6
  • 36 winners from the first qualifying round
Third qualifying roundChampions
(10 teams)
  • 10 winners from the second qualifying round for champions
Non-champions
(52 teams)
  • 6 domestic league third-placed teams from associations 7–12
  • 1 domestic league fourth-placed team from association 6
  • 45 winners from the second qualifying round for non-champions
Play-off roundChampions
(10 teams)
  • 5 winners from the third qualifying round for champions
  • 5 teams eliminated from Europa League third qualifying round for champions
Non-champions
(34 teams)
  • 1 domestic league fifth-placed team from association 5
  • 4 domestic league sixth-placed teams from associations 1–4 (EFL Cup winners for England)
  • 26 winners from the third qualifying round for non-champions
  • 3 teams eliminated from Europa League third qualifying round for non-champions
Group stage
(32 teams)
  • 5 winners from the play-off round for champions
  • 17 winners from the play-off round for non-champions
  • 10 teams eliminated from Europa League play-off round
Preliminary knockout round
(16 teams)
  • 8 group runners-up from the group stage
  • 8 group third-placed teams from Europa League group stage
Knockout phase
(16 teams)
  • 8 group winners from the group stage
  • 8 winners from the preliminary knockout round

Prize money

Similar to the UEFA Champions League and UEFA Europa League, the prize money received by the clubs is divided into fixed payments based on participation and results, and variable amounts that depend on the value of their TV market. [11]

For the 2021–22 season, group stage participation in the Europa Conference League is awarded a base fee of €2,940,000. A victory in the group pays €500,000 and a draw €166,000. Also, each group winner earns €650,000 and each runner-up €325,000. Reaching the knock-out stage triggers additional bonuses: €300,000 for the round of 32, €600,000 for the round of 16, €1,000,000 for the quarter-finals and €2,000,000 for the semi-finals. The losing finalists receive €3,000,000 and the champions receive €5,000,000. [12]

Also, each domestic champion not qualifying for the Group Stages of any tournament receives an additional €260,000.

Records and statistics

Performances by club

Performance in the UEFA Conference League by club
ClubWinnersRunners-upYears wonYears runner-up
Flag of Italy.svg Roma 10 2022
Flag of the Netherlands.svg Feyenoord 01 2022

All-time rankings

As of 25 May 2022
RankClubSeasonsPldWDLGFGAGDPtsCHFSFQF
1 Flag of the Netherlands.svg Feyenoord 1138412816+12200100
2 Flag of Italy.svg Roma 1138322815+13191000
3 Flag of Norway.svg Bodø/Glimt 1127412514+11180001
4 Flag of Greece.svg PAOK 1126241410+4140001
5 Flag of Austria.svg LASK 18611178+9130000
6 Flag of France.svg Marseille 18611157+8130010
7 Flag of the Czech Republic.svg Slavia Prague 1125342522+3130001
8 Flag of France.svg Rennes 185211510+5120000
9 Flag of Denmark.svg Copenhagen 185121913+6110000
10 Flag of the Netherlands.svg AZ 18431117+4110000
11 Flag of Switzerland.svg Basel 184221610+6100000
12 Flag of England.svg Leicester City 18422137+6100010
13 Flag of the Netherlands.svg Vitesse 1104241613+3100000
14 Flag of Serbia.svg Partizan 1104241213-1100000
15 Flag of Israel.svg Maccabi Tel Aviv 18332156+990000
16 Flag of Belgium (civil).svg Gent 1841375+290000
17 Flag of Azerbaijan.svg Qarabağ 183231114-380000
18 Flag of the Netherlands.svg PSV Eindhoven 16231117+470001
19 Flag of Slovakia.svg Slovan Bratislava 1622287+160000
20 Flag of Denmark.svg Randers 181431116-560000
21 Flag of England.svg Tottenham Hotspur 162131111050000
22 Flag of Germany.svg Union Berlin 1621389-150000
23 Flag of the Czech Republic.svg Jablonec 1613268-250000
24 Flag of Cyprus.svg Anorthosis 1613269-350000
25 Flag of Ukraine.svg Zorya Luhansk 16213511-650000
26 Flag of Estonia.svg Flora 1612358-340000
27 Flag of Cyprus.svg Omonia 16042510-540000
28 Flag of Finland.svg HJK 16204515-1040000
29 Flag of Romania.svg CFR Cluj 1611447-330000
30 Flag of Israel.svg Maccabi Haifa 1611427-530000
31 Flag of Denmark.svg Midtjylland 1210122020000
32 Flag of Austria.svg Rapid Wien 1210123-120000
33 Flag of Kazakhstan.svg Kairat 16024611-520000
34 Flag of Slovenia.svg Mura 16105514-920000
35 Flag of Bulgaria.svg CSKA Sofia 16015313-1010000
36 Flag of Armenia.svg Alashkert 16015415-1110000
37 Flag of Turkey.svg Fenerbahçe 1200246-200000
38 Flag of the Czech Republic.svg Sparta Prague 1200213-200000
39 Flag of Scotland.svg Celtic 1200215-400000
40 Flag of Gibraltar.svg Lincoln Red Imps 16006217-1500000

Note: Clubs ranked on theoretical points total (2 points for a win, 1 point for draw, results after extra time count, all matches that went to penalties count as draw). Excludes qualifying matches.

Number of participating clubs in the group stage

NationNo.ClubsYears
Flag of the Netherlands.svg  Netherlands (3)1 AZ 2021–22
1 Feyenoord 2021–22
1 Vitesse 2021–22
Flag of Cyprus.svg  Cyprus (2)1 Anorthosis 2021–22
1 Omonia 2021–22
Flag of the Czech Republic.svg  Czech Republic (2)1 Jablonec 2021–22
1 Slavia Prague 2021–22
Flag of Denmark.svg  Denmark (2)1 Copenhagen 2021–22
1 Randers 2021–22
Flag of Israel.svg  Israel (2)1 Maccabi Haifa 2021–22
1 Maccabi Tel Aviv 2021–22
Flag of Armenia.svg  Armenia (1)1 Alashkert 2021–22
Flag of Austria.svg  Austria (1)1 LASK 2021–22
Flag of Azerbaijan.svg  Azerbaijan (1)1 Qarabağ 2021–22
Flag of Belgium (civil).svg  Belgium (1)1 Gent 2021–22
Flag of Bulgaria.svg  Bulgaria (1)1 CSKA Sofia 2021–22
Flag of England.svg  England (1)1 Tottenham Hotspur 2021–22
Flag of Estonia.svg  Estonia (1)1 Flora 2021–22
Flag of Finland.svg  Finland (1)1 HJK 2021–22
Flag of France.svg  France (1)1 Rennes 2021–22
Flag of Germany.svg  Germany (1)1 Union Berlin 2021–22
Flag of Gibraltar.svg  Gibraltar (1)1 Lincoln Red Imps 2021–22
Flag of Greece.svg  Greece (1)1 PAOK 2021–22
Flag of Italy.svg  Italy (1)1 Roma 2021–22
Flag of Kazakhstan.svg  Kazakhstan (1)1 Kairat 2021–22
Flag of Norway.svg  Norway (1)1 Bodø/Glimt 2021–22
Flag of Romania.svg  Romania (1)1 CFR Cluj 2021–22
Flag of Serbia.svg  Serbia (1)1 Partizan 2021–22
Flag of Switzerland.svg   Switzerland (1)1 Basel 2021–22
Flag of Slovakia.svg  Slovakia (1)1 Slovan Bratislava 2021–22
Flag of Slovenia.svg  Slovenia (1)1 Mura 2021–22
Flag of Ukraine.svg  Ukraine (1)1 Zorya Luhansk 2021–22

Team in Bold: qualified for knockout phase

Performances by nation

Performance in finals by nation
NationWinnersRunners-upTotal
Flag of Italy.svg  Italy 101
Flag of the Netherlands.svg  Netherlands 011

See also

Notes

  1. The second-placed teams in each group advance to the preliminary knockout round, where they are joined by the eight third-placed teams in the Europa League group stage.

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