The UEFA Cup was preceded by the Inter-Cities Fairs Cup, which was a European football competition played between 1955 and 1971. The competition grew from 11 teams during the first cup (1955–58) to 64 teams by the last cup which was played in 1970–71. It had become so important on the European football scene that in the end it was taken over by UEFA and relaunched the following season as the UEFA Cup.
The UEFA Cup was first played in the 1971–72 season, with an all-English final of Wolverhampton Wanderers versus Tottenham Hotspur, with Spurs taking the first honours. Other English clubs who have won the Cup are Ipswich Town and Liverpool.
The competition was traditionally open to the runners-up of domestic leagues, but the competition was merged with UEFA's previous second-tier European competition, the UEFA Cup Winners' Cup, in 1999. Since then, the winners of domestic cup competitions have also entered the UEFA Cup. Also, clubs eliminated in the third qualifying round of the UEFA Champions League and the third placed teams at the end of the group phase could go on to compete in the UEFA Cup. Also admitted to the competition are three Fair Play representatives and winners of some selected domestic League Cup competitions.
The winners keep the trophy for a year before returning it to UEFA. After its return, the club can keep a four-fifths scale replica of the original trophy.
Four teams have won the UEFA Cup as well as their domestic league and cup competitions in the same season, those being IFK Göteborg in 1982, Galatasaray in 2000, FC Porto in 2003 and 2011, and CSKA Moscow in 2005. This accomplishment is known as a treble that only Galatasaray completed with the European Super Cup. Additionally, Tottenham Hotspur, Borussia Mönchengladbach, IFK Göteborg (twice), AFC Ajax, Galatasaray, and Feyenoord are the only teams to have won the cup without suffering a single loss in their campaign. RCD Espanyol is the single runner-up without a defeat. IFK Göteborg played 25 consecutive matches in the UEFA Cup between 1980 and 1987 without a single loss, including their 1981–82 and 1986–87 winning campaigns.
From the 2009–10 season, the competition is known as the UEFA Europa League. At the same time, the UEFA Intertoto Cup, UEFA's third-tier competition, was discontinued and merged into the new Europa League.
Read more about this topic: UEFA Cup
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