UEFA Cup Winners' Cup

The UEFA Cup Winners' Cup was a European football club competition contested annually by the winners of domestic cup competitions. The cup was, chronologically, the second seasonal inter-European club competition organised by UEFA. The tournament ran for 39 seasons, with the final edition held in 1998–99, after which it was discontinued and merged into the UEFA Cup.

UEFA Cup Winners' Cup
Cup Winners Cup.png
Organising bodyUEFA
Founded1960 (rebranded in 1994)
Number of teams32 (first round)
Related competitionsEuropean Cup (1st tier)
UEFA Cup (3rd tier; merged with)
Last championsItaly Lazio
(1st title)
Most successful club(s)Spain Barcelona
(4 titles)
UEFA Cup Winners' Cup
Season Winner
1960–61 Italy Fiorentina
1961–62 Spain Atlético Madrid
1962–63 England Tottenham Hotspur
1963–64 Portugal Sporting CP
1964–65 England West Ham United
1965–66 West Germany Borussia Dortmund
1966–67 West Germany Bayern Munich
1967–68 Italy AC Milan
1968–69 Czechoslovakia Slovan Bratislava
1969–70 England Manchester City
1970–71 England Chelsea
1971–72 Scotland Rangers
1972–73 Italy AC Milan (2)
1973–74 East Germany 1. FC Magdeburg
1974–75 Soviet Union Dynamo Kyiv
1975–76 Belgium RSC Anderlecht
1976–77 West Germany Hamburger SV
1977–78 Belgium RSC Anderlecht (2)
1978–79 Spain Barcelona
1979–80 Spain Valencia
1980–81 Soviet Union Dinamo Tbilisi
1981–82 Spain Barcelona (2)
1982–83 Scotland Aberdeen
1983–84 Italy Juventus
1984–85 England Everton
1985–86 Soviet Union Dynamo Kyiv (2)
1986–87 Netherlands Ajax Amsterdam
1987–88 Belgium KV Mechelen
1988–89 Spain Barcelona (3)
1989–90 Italy Sampdoria
1990–91 England Manchester United
1991–92 Germany Werder Bremen
1992–93 Italy Parma
1993–94 England Arsenal
1994–95 Spain Real Zaragoza
1995–96 France Paris Saint-Germain
1996–97 Spain Barcelona (4)
1997–98 England Chelsea (2)
1998–99 Italy Lazio

The first tournament was held in 1960–61, but it was organised by the Mitropa Cup's Organising Committee and not recognised by the governing body of European football until 1963, when it was accepted as a UEFA competition on the initiative of the Italian Football Federation (FIGC).[1]

The Cup Winners' Cup was regarded by UEFA as the second most prestigious European club competition, behind the European Cup and ahead of the Inter-Cities Fairs Cup (later the UEFA Cup).[2] From 1972 onwards, the winner of the tournament progressed to play the winner of the European Cup (later the UEFA Champions League) in the European 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 in 1994.


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 goals rule was applied when aggregate scores were tied. 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. If a domestic cup holder also wins the Cup Winners' Cup in the same season, the domestic cup runner-up will take that association's berth.

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 KNVB Cup. This was due to both KNVB Cup finalists Ajax and PSV Eindhoven qualifying for the recently expanded Champions League.


Early tournamentsEdit

The earliest events where cup holders from different countries met were the friendly games nicknamed "world championships" at the end of the 19th century between English and Scottish cup holders. The respective leagues were yet established, and therefore, the first two editions involved meetings between cup holders – the fourth edition involved cup holders as well (won by Aston Villa, Renton, and the Heart of Midlothian, respectively) – exception being the 1895 edition, where English champions Sunderland beat Scottish champions Heart of Midlothian.[3][4]

Inauguration and prestigeEdit

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 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.[5][6][7][8][9][10]

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.[11]

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. 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. 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.[12]

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.

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. 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 the 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.[13]

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

The trophyEdit

The Cup Winners' Cup trophy itself is a property of UEFA and it is not assigned to any club, though clubs were allowed to have replicas made.[14] There were various versions of the trophy awarded throughout its history. The first was only awarded in its maiden season to Fiorentina. The appearance of the second trophy differed significantly from the successor versions.[citation needed] The third and the fourth trophy differed only in the type of base. The wooden-based trophy was awarded to the winners during the 1990s, with exception of 1993 when the special version with a metal base was awarded to Parma.[citation needed]

Records and statisticsEdit


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

By nationEdit

Performance in finals by nation
Nation Titles Runners-up Total
  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

By managerEdit

By playerEdit

See alsoEdit


  1. ^ "European Cup Winners' Cup makes its debut" (PDF). uefadirect. No. 100. August 2010. p. 15. Archived (PDF) from the original on 12 August 2011.
  2. ^ Sam Carney (11 April 2019). "In praise of the Cup Winners' Cup, the competition that was never retained". The Guardian. Retrieved 30 May 2021.
  3. ^ "World Champions!". roker-roar.com. Retrieved 27 April 2013.
  4. ^ "The unique history of British Cup Competitions". 7 September 2020.
  5. ^ Weaver, Graham (2012). Gunners' Glory: 14 Milestones in Arsenal's History. Mainstream Publishing. p. 159. ISBN 9781780575186. The Cup-Winners' Cup is traditionally the weakest of the three European competitions
  6. ^ Hesse-Lichtenberger, Ulrich (2003). Tor!: The Story of German Football. WSC Books Limited. p. 222. ISBN 9780954013455. 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
  7. ^ Spurling, Jon (2014). Red Letter Days: Fourteen Dramatic Events That Shook Arsenal Football Club. Pitch Publishing. p. 189. ISBN 9781909626935. The European Cup Winners' Cup had always been regarded as the weakest of the three continental competitions
  8. ^ 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
  9. ^ 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
  10. ^ Donald, Stuart (2011). On Fire with Fergie. Headline. Chapter 12, footnote 2. ISBN 978-0755319817.
  11. ^ "1985: English teams banned after Heysel". 31 May 1985 – via news.bbc.co.uk.
  12. ^ Sam Carney (11 April 2019). "In praise of the Cup Winners' Cup, the competition that was never retained". The Guardian. Retrieved 30 May 2021.
  13. ^ Joe Marshall (22 May 2019). "6 things we loved – and miss – about the Cup Winners' Cup". FourFourTwo. Retrieved 30 May 2021.
  14. ^ "UEFA Zone – National Football Museum, Manchester". Archived from the original on 17 September 2014.
  15. ^ "Reyes's fifth win: top UEFA club cup winners". UEFA. 18 May 2016. Retrieved 19 May 2016.

External linksEdit

  Media related to UEFA Cup Winners' Cup at Wikimedia Commons