The UEFA Champions League
known simply as the Champions League, and originally known as the European Champion Clubs’ Cup or European Cup, is an annual continental club football competition organised by the Union of European Football Associations (UEFA) since 1955 for the top football clubs in Europe.It is one of the most prestigious tournaments in the world and the most prestigious club competition in European football. The final of the 2013 tournament was the most-watched UEFA Champions League final to date, as well as the most watched annual sporting event worldwide in 2013 to date, drawing 360 million television viewers.
Prior to 1992, the tournament was officially called the „European Champion Clubs’ Cup”, but was usually referred to simply as the „European Cup”. The competition was initially a straight knockout competition open only to the champion club of each country.During the 1990s, the tournament began to be expanded, incorporating a round-robin group phase and more teams. Europe’s strongest national leagues now provide up to four teams for the competition and will provide up to five teams from the 2015–16 competition onwards. The UEFA Champions League should not be confused with the UEFA Europa League, formerly known as the UEFA Cup.
The tournament consists of several stages.In the present format, it begins in mid-July with three knockout qualifying rounds and a play-off round.The 10 surviving teams join 22 seeded teams in the group stage, in which there are eight groups of four teams each. The eight group winners and eight runners-up enter the final knockout phase, which culminates with the final match in May. The winner of the UEFA Champions League qualifies for the UEFA Super Cup and the FIFA Club World Cup.
Real Madrid is the most successful club in the competition’s history, having won the tournament nine times, including the first five seasons it was contested.Spanish clubs have accumulated the highest number of victories, with 13 wins, followed by England and Italy with 12 each. The title has been won by 22 different clubs, 12 of which have won the title more than once. Since the tournament changed name and structure in 1992, no club has managed consecutive wins, with Milan being the last club to successfully defend their title, in 1990. The reigning champions of the competition are Bayern Munich, after beating Borussia Dortmund 2–1 in the 2013 Final.
The UEFA Champions League anthem, officially titled simply as „Champions League”, was written by Tony Britten, and is an adaptation of George Frideric Handel’s Zadok the Priest (one of his Coronation Anthems).UEFA commissioned Britten in 1992 to arrange an anthem, and the piece was performed by London’s Royal Philharmonic Orchestraand sung by the Academy of St. Martin in the Fields.The chorus contains the three official languages used by UEFA: English, German, and French. The anthem’s chorus is played before each UEFA Champions League game, as well as at the beginning and end of television broadcasts of the matches. The complete anthem is about three minutes long, and has two short verses and the chorus. For the 2009 UEFA Champions League Final in Rome, tenor Andrea Bocelli sang backing lyrics to the Champions League anthem, whilst similarly Juan Diego Flórez provided the tenor for the 2010 UEFA Champions League Final. Girl band All Angels performed at the 2011 UEFA Champions League Final. The anthem has never been released commercially in its original version.
The tournament proper begins with a group stage of 32 teams, divided into eight groups. Seeding is used whilst making the draw for this stage, whilst teams from the same country may not be drawn into groups together. Each team meets the others in its group home and away in a round-robin format. The winning team and the runners-up from each group then progress to the next round. The third-placed team enters the UEFA Europa League.
For this stage, the winning team from one group plays against the runners-up from another group, and teams from the same association may not be drawn against each other. From the quarter-finals onwards, the draw is entirely random, without association protection. The tournament uses the away goals rule: if the aggregate score of the two games is tied, then the team who scored more goals at their opponent’s stadium advances.
The group stage is played through the autumn, whilst the knock-out stage starts after a winter break. The knock-out ties are played in a two-legged format, with the exception of the final. This is typically held in the final two weeks of May.
The UEFA Refereeing Unit is broken down into five experience-based categories. A referee is initially placed into Category 4 with the exception of referees from France, Germany, England, Italy, or Spain. Referees from these five countries are typically comfortable with top professional matches and are therefore directly placed into Category 3. Each referee’s performance is observed and evaluated after every match; his category may be revised twice per season, but a referee cannot be promoted directly from Category 3 to the Elite Category.
As of the 2012–13 season, 40 gold medals are presented to the Champions League winners, and 40 silver medals to the runners-up.
As of 2012–13, UEFA awards €2.1 million to each team in the play-off round. For reaching the group stage, UEFA awards a base fee of €8.6 million. A win in the group is awarded €1 million and a draw is worth €500,000. In addition, UEFA pays teams reaching the first knockout round €3.5 million, each quarter-finalist €3.9 million, €4.9 million for each semi-finalist, €6.5 million for the runners-up and €10.5 million for the winners.
- Playoffs: €2,100,000
- Base fee for group stage: €8,600,000
- Group match victory: €1,000,000
- Group match draw: €500,000
- Round of 16: €3,500,000
- Quarter-finals: €3,900,000
- Semi-finals: €4,900,000
- Losing finalist: €6,500,000
- Winning the Final: €10,500,000
A large part of the distributed revenue from the UEFA Champions League is linked to the „market pool”, the distribution of which is determined by the value of the television market in each country. For the 2012–13 season, Juventus, who were eliminated on quarter-finals, earned nearly €65.3 million in total of which €20.5 million was prize money, compared with the €55.0 million earned by Bayern Munich, who won the tournament and was awarded with €35.9 million of prize money.