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UEFA Cup Winners' Cup

UEFA Cup Winners' Cup
Cup Winners Cup.png
RegionEurope (UEFA)
Number of teams32 (first round)
Last championsItaly Lazio
(1st title)
Most successful club(s)Spain Barcelona
(4 titles)

The UEFA Cup Winners' Cup (abbreviated as CWC) was a football club competition contested annually by the most recent winners of all European domestic cup competitions. The cup was one of the many inter-European club competitions that have been organised by the Union of European Football Associations (UEFA). The first competition was held in the 1960–61 season — but not recognised by the governing body of European football until two years later.[1] The final tournament was held in 1998–99, after which it was absorbed into the UEFA Cup.[1]

From 1972 onwards, the winner of the tournament progressed to play the winner of the European Cup (later the UEFA Champions League) in the UEFA Super Cup. Since the abolition of the UEFA Cup Winners' Cup, the UEFA Super Cup place previously reserved for the Cup Winners' Cup winner has been taken by the winner of the UEFA Cup, now the UEFA Europa League. The competition's official name was originally the European Cup Winners' Cup; it was renamed the UEFA Cup Winners' Cup before the 1994–95 season.


Throughout its 39-year history, the Cup Winners' Cup was always a straight knock-out tournament with two-legged home and away ties until the single match final staged at a neutral venue, the only exception to this being the two-legged final in the competition's first year. In common with other UEFA club tournaments, the away goal applied when aggregate scores was parity. The format was identical to the original European Champions' Cup with 32 teams contesting four knock-out rounds prior to the showpiece final, with the tournament usually running from September to May each year. Following the influx of new UEFA member nations during the 1990s, a regular August preliminary round was added to reduce the number of entrants to 32.

Entry was restricted to one club from each UEFA member association, the only exception being to allow the current Cup Winners' Cup holders to enter alongside their nation's new domestic cup winners in order to allow them a chance to defend their Cup Winners' Cup title (although no club ever managed to do this). However, if this team also qualified for the European Champions' Cup then they would default on their place in the Cup Winners' Cup and no other team would replace them.

On occasions when a club completed a domestic league and cup 'double' that club would enter the European Cup/UEFA Champions League and their place in the Cup Winners' Cup would be taken by the domestic cup runners-up. In 1998–99, the competition's final year, Heerenveen of the Netherlands entered the Cup Winners' Cup despite only reaching the semi-final of the previous season's Dutch Cup. This was due to both Dutch Cup finalists Ajax and PSV Eindhoven qualifying for the recently expanded Champions League.


Inauguration and prestige

Mirroring the circumstances behind the creation of the European Cup five years earlier, the idea for a pan-European cup competition contested by all of Europe's domestic cup winners came from prominent European sports journalists. The European Cup had proven to be a great success and the Fairs Cup had also proven popular – as a result, other ideas for new European football tournaments were being aired. One proposal was for a tournament based upon the format of the European Cup, but with national cup winners rather than league champions taking part, which could run alongside that competition.

The trophy awarded to Atlético Madrid in 1962.

The inaugural Cup Winners' Cup was held in the 1960–61 season and was basically a semi-official pilot tournament. However the initial reaction to the competition's creation was unenthusiastic on the part of many of Europe's top clubs – many European associations did not have domestic cup competitions at the time and in those countries that did, the cup competition was generally held in low esteem and often not taken seriously by the bigger clubs. It was essentially only in England, Scotland and to a lesser extent Germany and Spain that the domestic cup was considered especially prestigious. Many were sceptical about the viability of a European tournament for cup winners and many of the bigger clubs eligible to contest the first CWC turned down the chance to enter, such as Atlético Madrid of Spain and AS Monaco of France.

Ultimately the inaugural CWC was contested by just 10 clubs (with Fiorentina of Italy winning the two-legged final against the Scottish team Rangers) but the games were generally well attended and the response from the public and the media to the new tournament was positive and enthusiastic. For the tournament's second season in 1961–62, UEFA took over the running of all aspects of the competition and this time all the clubs eligible to enter accepted the opportunity.

The trophy awarded to A.C. Milan in 1968.

By 1968, all UEFA member nations had set up domestic cup competitions due to the success of the Cup Winners' Cup. UEFA regarded it as the second most prestigious competition, behind the European Cup (later the UEFA Champions League) and ahead of the Fairs Cup (later the UEFA Cup). Therefore, a team qualified for both the European Cup and the Cup Winners' Cup would play in the European Cup, whereas a team qualified for both the UEFA Cup and the Cup Winners' Cup would play in the Cup Winners' Cup. Nevertheless, many commentators and fans regarded the Cup Winners' Cup as weaker than the UEFA Cup, which had more and better teams from the stronger European leagues.[2][3][4][5][6][7]

In the 1985–86 season, English clubs were banned from European competition as a result of Heysel Stadium disaster. Consequently, Manchester United, Everton, Coventry City, Wimbledon and Liverpool were prevented from competing in the Cup Winners' Cup until the beginning of the 1990–91 season.[8]

No club managed to retain the Cup Winners' Cup, although eight times a winning side followed up their victories with a losing appearance in the following season's final.


After the establishment of the UEFA Champions League (formerly called the European Champion Clubs' Cup) in the early 1990s, the standing and prestige of the Cup Winners' Cup began to decline.[citation needed] With the expansion of the Champions League in 1997 to allow more than one team from the highest-ranked member associations to enter, the Cup Winners' Cup began to look noticeably inferior.[citation needed] Many of the bigger teams who would previously have entered the Cup Winners' Cup were now gaining entry to the Champions League instead by finishing second in their domestic league – such as Cup Winners' Cup holders Barcelona in 1997–98 and Bayern Munich and PSV Eindhoven in 1998–99 — and this greatly weakened the Cup Winners' Cup.[citation needed]

At the time of the Champions League expansion, UEFA also considered expanding the Cup Winners' Cup from 32 teams to 64 by allowing a second team to enter from many countries, although by what qualification criteria the second entrants would be determined were never settled upon — ultimately UEFA did not make any of these changes to the Cup Winners' Cup.[citation needed]

By the late 1990s, the Cup Winners' Cup had come to be seen as a second-rate competition with only one or two big name teams available to enter each year and the interest in the tournament from both major clubs and the public dropped.[citation needed] Finally, with the further expansion of the UEFA Champions League to include as many as three or four teams from the top footballing nations, the decision was taken to abolish the competition after the end of the 1998–99 tournament and merge it into the UEFA Cup (now UEFA Europa League). Since then, domestic cup winners who do not otherwise qualify for the Champions League are given a place in the Europa League.

The trophy awarded to Sporting CP in 1964.
The trophy awarded to Real Zaragoza in 1995.

The trophy

The Cup Winners' Cup trophy itself is a property of UEFA and it is not assigned to any club.[9] There were various versions of the trophy awarded throughout its history. The first was only awarded in its maiden season to Fiorentina - it had no handles. The second one resembled the Copa del Rey trophy. The third trophy had rather a similar shape, but had a round wooden base. The wooden-based trophy awarded to Manchester United in 1991, Real Zaragoza in 1995, and Lazio in its final season. The wooden base apparently can be unattached by unscrewing the bolt underneath, as seen during Rangers's victory celebration in 1972[10][11] and Arsenal in 1994.[12][13]

Records and statistics


Performance in Finals by club
Club Winners Runners-up Years won Years runner-up
Spain Barcelona 4 2 1979, 1982, 1989, 1997 1969, 1991
Belgium Anderlecht 2 2 1976, 1978 1977, 1990
Italy Milan 2 1 1968, 1973 1974
England Chelsea 2 0 1971, 1998
Soviet Union Dynamo Kyiv[B] 2 0 1975, 1986
Spain Atlético Madrid 1 2 1962 1963, 1986
Scotland Rangers 1 2 1972 1961, 1967
England Arsenal 1 2 1994 1980, 1995
Italy Fiorentina 1 1 1961 1962
England West Ham United 1 1 1965 1976
Germany Hamburg[A] 1 1 1977 1968
Netherlands Ajax 1 1 1987 1988
Italy Sampdoria 1 1 1990 1989
Italy Parma 1 1 1993 1994
France Paris Saint-Germain 1 1 1996 1997
England Tottenham Hotspur 1 0 1963
Portugal Sporting CP 1 0 1964
Germany Borussia Dortmund[A] 1 0 1966
Germany Bayern Munich[A] 1 0 1967
Czechoslovakia Slovan Bratislava[C] 1 0 1969
England Manchester City 1 0 1970
East Germany Magdeburg[A] 1 0 1974
Spain Valencia 1 0 1980
Soviet Union Dinamo Tbilisi[B] 1 0 1981
Scotland Aberdeen 1 0 1983
Italy Juventus 1 0 1984
England Everton 1 0 1985
Belgium Mechelen 1 0 1988
England Manchester United 1 0 1991
Germany Werder Bremen[A] 1 0 1992
Spain Real Zaragoza 1 0 1995
Italy Lazio 1 0 1999
Spain Real Madrid 0 2 1971, 1983
Austria Rapid Wien 0 2 1985, 1996
Hungary MTK Hungária 0 1 1964
Germany 1860 Munich[A] 0 1 1965
England Liverpool 0 1 1966
Poland Górnik Zabrze 0 1 1970
Soviet Union Dynamo Moscow[B] 0 1 1972
England Leeds United 0 1 1973
Hungary Ferencváros 0 1 1975
Austria Austria Wien 0 1 1978
Germany Fortuna Düsseldorf[A] 0 1 1979
East Germany Carl Zeiss Jena[A] 0 1 1981
Belgium Standard Liège 0 1 1982
Portugal Porto 0 1 1984
East Germany Lokomotive Leipzig[A] 0 1 1987
France Monaco 0 1 1992
Belgium Royal Antwerp 0 1 1993
Germany Stuttgart[A] 0 1 1998
Spain Mallorca 0 1 1999

By nation

Performance in finals by nation
Nation Winners Runners-up Totals
 England 8 5 13
 Spain 7 7 14
 Italy 7 4 11
 West Germany/Germany[A] 4 4 8
 Belgium 3 4 7
 Soviet Union[B] 3 1 4
 Scotland 2 2 4
 East Germany[A] 1 2 3
 France 1 2 3
 Netherlands 1 1 2
 Portugal 1 1 2
 Czechoslovakia[C] 1 0 1
 Austria 0 3 3
 Hungary 0 2 2
 Poland 0 1 1
Totals 39 39 78

By player

See also


  1. ^ a b uefadirect, Issue 100: August 2010, Page 15 "European Cup Winners' Cup makes its debut".
  2. ^ Weaver, Graham (22 June 2012). Gunners' Glory: 14 Milestones in Arsenal's History. Mainstream Publishing. p. 159. ISBN 9781780575186. Retrieved 2 October 2015. The Cup-Winners' Cup is traditionally the weakest of the three European competitions
  3. ^ Hesse-Lichtenberger, Ulrich (2003). Tor!: The Story of German Football. WSC Books Limited. p. 222. ISBN 9780954013455. Retrieved 2 October 2015. Only three East German clubs ever reached a European final ... and they were all in the Cup-Winners Cup, the weakest of the three European competitions
  4. ^ Spurling, Jon (18 September 2014). Red Letter Days: Fourteen Dramatic Events That Shook Arsenal Football Club. Pitch Publishing. p. 189. ISBN 9781909626935. Retrieved 2 October 2015. The European Cup Winners' Cup had always been regarded as the weakest of the three continental competitions
  5. ^ Kassimeris, Christos (2008). European football in black and white: tackling racism in football. Lexington Books. p. 26. ISBN 9780739119600. Only three East German clubs ever reached a European final — all in the Cup-Winners' Cup, the weakest of the three European competitions
  6. ^ Ridley, Ian (9 February 1997). "Football: Driven to distraction by the Cup". Independent on Sunday. Retrieved 2 October 2015. the Cup-winners' Cup ... is also the weakest and least regarded of the European competitions
  7. ^ Donald, Stuart (4 July 2011). On Fire with Fergie. Headline. Chapter 12, footnote 2. ISBN 978-0755319817. Retrieved 2 October 2015.
  8. ^ "1985: English teams banned after Heysel". 31 May 1985 – via
  9. ^ "UEFA Zone - National Football Museum, Manchester". Archived from the original on 17 September 2014.
  10. ^ Jack, Christopher (11 June 2015). "RANGERS ... 1972 Cup-Winners' Cup: How the Bears roared in Barca". Evening Times.
  11. ^ "SEASON 1972/1973 RANGERS' CUP WINNERS' CUP TEAM IBROX - GLASGOW The Rangers team that won the Europen [sic] Cup Winners' Cup in". Alamy. Retrieved 17 June 2019.
  12. ^ "Football. UEFA Cup Winners Cup Final. Copenhagen, Denmark. 4th May 1994. Arsenal 1 v Parma 0. Arsenal's Steve Bould holds the trophy aloft". Getty Images. 4 May 1994.
  13. ^ "Arsenal FC manager George Graham at Stansted Airport 1994". Getty Images. 4 May 1994.
  14. ^ "Reyes's fifth win: top UEFA club cup winners". UEFA. 18 May 2016. Retrieved 19 May 2016.

External links

Media related to UEFA Cup Winners' Cup at Wikimedia Commons