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The Union of European Football Associations (UEFA /juːˈeɪfə/ yoo-AY-fə; French: Union des Associations Européennes de Football;[19] German: Vereinigung Europäischer Fußballverbände)[20] is the administrative body for association football, futsal and beach soccer in Europe, although several member states are primarily or entirely located in Asia. It is one of six continental confederations of world football's governing body FIFA. UEFA consists of 55 national association members.

UEFA represents the national football associations of Europe, runs nation and club competitions including the UEFA European Championship, UEFA Nations League, UEFA Champions League, UEFA Europa League, and UEFA Super Cup, and controls the prize money, regulations, and media rights to those competitions.

Henri Delaunay was the first general secretary and Ebbe Schwartz the first president. The current president is Aleksander Čeferin, a former Football Association of Slovenia president, who was elected as UEFA's seventh president at the 12th Extraordinary UEFA Congress in Athens in September 2016, and automatically became a vice-president of the world body FIFA.[23]

History and membership

UEFA was founded on 15 June 1954 in Basel, Switzerland after consultation between the Italian, French, and Belgian associations.[24] The European football union began with 25 members; that number doubled by the early 1990s as new associations were born out of the fragmentation of the Soviet Union, Yugoslavia and Czechoslovakia into their constituent states. Until 1959 the main headquarters were located in Paris, and later in Bern. In 1995, UEFA headquarters were transferred to Nyon, Switzerland.

UEFA membership coincides for the most part with recognition as a sovereign country in Europe, although there are some exceptions. Some states (Monaco and Vatican City) are not members. Some UEFA members are not sovereign states, but form part of a larger recognised sovereign state in the context of international law. These include Northern Ireland, Scotland, England and Wales (countries of the United Kingdom), Gibraltar (British Overseas Territory), the Faroe Islands (autonomous territory within Denmark), and Kosovo (disputed territory and partially recognised state), however in the context of these countries government functions concerning sport tend to be carried at the territorial level coterminous with the UEFA member entity.

Some UEFA members are transcontinental states (Azerbaijan, Georgia, Kazakhstan, Turkey and Russia) and others are considered part of Europe both culturally and politically (Armenia and Cyprus). Countries which had been members of the Asian Football Confederation (AFC) were also admitted to the European football association, particularly Israel (because it had been banned from the AFC group in 1974) and Kazakhstan. Additionally some UEFA member associations allow teams from outside their association's main territory to take part in their "domestic" competition. AS Monaco, for example, takes part in the French League (though a separate sovereign entity); Welsh clubs Cardiff City, Swansea City and Newport County A.F.C. participate in the English League; Derry City, situated in Northern Ireland, plays in the Republic of Ireland-based League of Ireland and the 7 native Liechtensteinian teams play in the Swiss Leagues.


  • [[INLINE_IMAGE|//|// 1.5x, // 2x|Flag of Saar (1947–1956).svg|h15|w23|thumbborder flagicon-img]] Saarland Football Union (1954–1956), joined Football Association of West Germany
  • [[INLINE_IMAGE|//|// 1.5x, // 2x|East Germany|h14|w23|thumbborder flagicon-img flagicon-img]] Football Association of East Germany (1954–1990), joined Football Association of West Germany as German Football Association
  • [[INLINE_IMAGE|//|// 1.5x, // 2x|Soviet Union|h12|w23|thumbborder flagicon-img flagicon-img]] Football Federation of the Soviet Union (1954–1991); in 1992 the Soviet Union was dissolved into 15 republics (10 in Europe and 5 in Asia) with the Russian Football Union being acknowledged as the direct successor of the Football Federation of the Soviet Union; in spring and summer of 1992 it was represented by teams of the Commonwealth of Independent States
  • [[INLINE_IMAGE|//|// 1.5x, // 2x|Socialist Federal Republic of Yugoslavia|h12|w23|thumbborder flagicon-img flagicon-img]] Football Association of Yugoslavia (1954–1992); in 1992 Yugoslavia collapsed, with various federal republics becoming independent states, leaving only Serbia and Montenegro as part of FR Yugoslavia (which was renamed the State Union of Serbia and Montenegro in 2003); the Football Association of Serbia and Montenegro was acknowledged as the direct successor of Football Association of Yugoslavia. Four other successor republics formed their own football organisations.
  • [[INLINE_IMAGE|//|// 1.5x, // 2x|Serbia and Montenegro|h12|w23|thumbborder flagicon-img flagicon-img]] Football Association of Serbia and Montenegro (1992–2006); in 2006 the union state was dissolved with the Football Association of Serbia becoming its successor. Montenegro, which exited the union, created the Football Association of Montenegro. It competed as FR Yugoslavia until 2003 when the country changed its name to Serbia and Montenegro.
  • [[INLINE_IMAGE|//|// 1.5x, // 2x|Czechoslovakia|h15|w23|thumbborder flagicon-img flagicon-img]] Football Association of Czechoslovakia (1954–1993), became Football Association of the Czech Republic and Slovak Football Association with the Football Association of the Czech Republic acknowledged as its direct successor.

There are five European states that have national teams that are not affiliated with UEFA or FIFA.


UEFA runs official international competitions in Europe and some countries of Northern, Southwestern and Central Asia for national teams and professional clubs, known as UEFA competitions, some of which are regarded as the world's most prestigious tournaments.

The UEFA is the organiser of two of the most prestigious competitions in international football: The UEFA European Championship and the UEFA Nations League. The main competition for men's national teams is the UEFA European Championship, started in 1958, with the first finals in 1960, and known as the European Nations Cup until 1964. It is also called UEFA or the EURO. The UEFA Nations League is the second tournament of the UEFA and was introduced in 2018. The tournament largely replaced the international friendly matches previously played on the FIFA International Match Calendar. It will be played every two years.

UEFA also runs national competitions at Under-21, Under-19 and Under-17 levels. For women's national teams, UEFA operates the UEFA Women's Championship for senior national sides as well as Women's Under-19 and Women's Under-17 Championships.

UEFA also organised the UEFA–CAF Meridian Cup with CAF for youth teams in an effort to boost youth football. UEFA launched the UEFA Regions' Cup, for semi-professional teams representing their local region, in 1999. In futsal there is the UEFA Futsal Championship and UEFA Futsal Under-21 Championship. Despite the existence of UEFA's Futsal and Beach soccer committee, UEFA does not organise any beach soccer competitions. International and club beach soccer competitions for UEFA members are organised externally by Beach Soccer Worldwide.

The Italian, German, Spanish, French and Russian[27] men's national teams are the sole teams to have won the European football championship in all categories.

The top-ranked UEFA competition is the UEFA Champions League, which started in the 1992/93 season and gathers the top 1–4 teams of each country's league (the number of teams depend on that country's ranking and can be upgraded or downgraded); this competition was re-structured from a previous one that only gathered the top team of each country (held from 1955 to 1992 and known as the European Champion Clubs' Cup or simply the European Cup).

A second, lower-ranked competition is the UEFA Europa League. This competition, for national knockout cup winners and high-placed league teams, was launched by UEFA in 1971 as a successor of both the former UEFA Cup and the Inter-Cities Fairs Cup (also begun in 1955). A third competition, the UEFA Cup Winners' Cup, which had started in 1960, was absorbed into the UEFA Cup (now UEFA Europa League) in 1999.

In December 2018, UEFA announced the creation of a third club competition, with a working title of Europa League 2 (UEL2) (The name was later decided as UEFA Europa Conference League) . The competition would feature 32 teams directly in 8 groups of 4, with a knockout round between the second placed teams in UEFA Europa Conference League and the third placed teams in the Europa League, leading to a final 16 knockout stage featuring the eight group winners. UEFA announced that the first edition of the competition begins in 2021 [28].

In women's football UEFA also conducts the UEFA Women's Champions League for club teams. The competition was first held in 2001, and known as the UEFA Women's Cup until 2009.

The UEFA Super Cup pits the winners of the Champions League against the winners of the Europa League (previously the winners of the Cup Winners' Cup), and came into being in 1973.[29][30][31]

The UEFA Intertoto Cup was a summer competition, previously operated by several Central European football associations, which was relaunched and recognised as official UEFA club competition by UEFA in 1995.[32] The last Intertoto Cup took place in 2008.

The European/South American Cup was jointly organised with CONMEBOL between the Champions League and the Copa Libertadores winners.[33]

Only five teams[34][35] (Juventus, Ajax, Manchester United, Bayern Munich and Chelsea[36]) have won each of the three main competitions (European Cup/UEFA Champions League, European Cup Winners' Cup/UEFA Cup Winners' Cup and UEFA Cup/UEFA Europa League),[37] a feat that is no longer possible for any team that did not win the Cup Winners' Cup. There are currently eight teams throughout Europe that have won two of the three trophies; all but one have won the Cup Winners' Cup, four require a win in the Champions League and four require a UEFA Europa League win.

Juventus of Italy was the first team in Europe—remaining the only one to date (2019)—to win all UEFA's official championships and cups[38] and, in commemoration of achieving that feat, have received The UEFA Plaque by the Union of European Football Associations on 12 July 1988.[39][40]

UEFA's premier futsal competition is the UEFA Futsal Cup, a tournament started in 2001 which replaced the former Futsal European Clubs Championship. This event, despite enjoying a long and well-established tradition in the European futsal community, dating back to 1984, was never recognised as official by UEFA.

National team rankings

  • Last updates: Men's national teams – 19 September 2019[41] Women's national teams – 12 July 2019[42]
  • – Inactive for more than 18 months and therefore not ranked.

National team in World Cups


  • 1st – Champions
  • 2nd – Runners-up
  •  3rd  – Third place[12]
  • 4th – Fourth place
  • QF – Quarterfinals
  • R16 – Round of 16 (since 1986: knockout round of 16)
  • R2 – Second round (for the 1974, 1978, and 1982 tournaments, which had two group stages)
  • R1 – Group stage (in the 1950, 1974, 1978, and 1982 tournaments, which had two group stages, this refers to the first group stage)
  • 1S – First Knockout Stage (1934–1938 Single-elimination tournament)
  •   – Did not qualify
  • ×  – Did not enter / Withdrew / Banned
  • – Hosts



  • [[INLINE_IMAGE|//|// 1.5x, // 2x|Lithuania|h14|w23|thumbborder flagicon-img flagicon-img]] Lithuania, in 1990 sanctions were imposed due to secession of Lithuanian Football Federation from the Football Federation of Soviet Union
  • [[INLINE_IMAGE|//|// 1.5x, // 2x|Federal Republic of Yugoslavia|h12|w23|thumbborder flagicon-img flagicon-img]] FR Yugoslavia, in 1992-1998 sanctions were imposed due to the Bosnian War (as part of Yugoslav Wars)
  • [[INLINE_IMAGE|//|// 1.5x, // 2x|Albania|h15|w21|thumbborder flagicon-img flagicon-img]] Albania, in 1967 special sanctions were imposed against 1966–67 Albanian Superliga due to its political background
  • [[INLINE_IMAGE|//|// 1.5x, // 2x|England|h14|w23|thumbborder flagicon-img flagicon-img]] England, in 1985-1991 sanctions were imposed against English association football clubs due to the Heysel Stadium disaster by suspending their participation in continental competitions for five years
  • [[INLINE_IMAGE|//|// 1.5x, // 2x|Italy|h15|w23|thumbborder flagicon-img flagicon-img]] Italy, in 1974-1975 sanctions were imposed against SS Lazio due to its fans, Italy was restricted from the European Cup to which Lazio qualified
  • [[INLINE_IMAGE|//|// 1.5x, // 2x|Netherlands|h15|w23|thumbborder flagicon-img flagicon-img]] Netherlands, in 1991-1992 sanctions were imposed against AFC Ajax due to its fans, the Netherlands were restricted from the European Cup to which Ajax qualified

Corruption and controversy

Dissatisfied fans across Europe have referred to the organisation as UEFA mafia, including in Russia's top league,[43] in Bulgaria's top league,[44] and in a Champions League group stage match held in Sweden.[45] The term has also been covered for its use outside of stadiums, for example during a protest in Kosovo outside an EU building following the Serbia v Albania (UEFA Euro 2016 qualifying) match.[46]

Following the 2015 FIFA corruption case, the current president of UEFA, Michel Platini, was also involved himself in the case. Swiss prosecutors accuse FIFA president Sepp Blatter of making a "disloyal payment" of $2m (£1.6m) to Mr Platini. Swiss attorney general, Michael Lauber, stated: "We didn't interview Mr Platini as a witness, that's not true. We investigated against him in between as a witness and an accused person".[47][48] Both Platini and Sepp Blatter are currently under formal investigation by FIFA's independent ethics committee. On 8 October 2015, Platini was provisionally suspended for 90 days from any football-related activity.[49]

In 2019 UEFA's decision to host Europa League Cup final in Baku, Azerbaijan left one of the finalists, Arsenal, with a decision to withdraw their Armenian player Henrikh Mkhitaryan out of the competition due to safety concerns.[50]

Executive Committee


Note: The UEFA Champions League sponsors are also sponsors of the UEFA Super Cup, UEFA Women's Champions League and the UEFA Youth League (excluding Heineken, which is replaced by EA Sports´s FIFA).

See also

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