In European football, the UEFA coefficients are statistics used for ranking and seeding teams in club and international competitions. Introduced in 1979, the coefficients are calculated by UEFA, who administer football within Europe.
For men's competitions (discussed in this article), three different sets of coefficients are calculated:
The UEFA national team coefficient is derived from the results of each European national football team, and is only calculated by UEFA every second year in November; defined as being the point of time when all UEFA nations have completed the qualification stage of the upcoming World Cup or European Championship tournament.
The purpose of calculating the coefficients is to compile an official UEFA rank, to be used as seeding criteria for the European nations, when drawing up qualification groups and the final tournament groups of the European Championship. Previously, up until 2006, the UEFA national team coefficient was also used for the seeded draw of World Cup qualification groups in Europe, while the draw for final tournament groups of the World Cup was always seeded on the basis of the official FIFA World Rankings. UEFA stopped using UEFA national team coefficients for the seeding of World Cup qualification groups at the request of FIFA to only use the official FIFA ranking for all seeded draws related to the World Cup tournament.
It was first introduced in 2003 and used for seeding the 2004 European Final tournament and 2006 World Cup qualification. Until the end of the Euro 2008 tournament, the UEFA national team coefficient was calculated by dividing the number of all points scored (three points for a win, one for a draw) by the number of all matches played, in the last two qualification rounds of the World Cup or European Championship. Results from the final tournaments, Play-off matches and friendly games were all ignored. In those cases where a nation did not take part at one of the two latest qualifying rounds, due to being directly qualified as a host, only one qualifying round would be taken into account.
If two or more nations ended up with exactly the same coefficient, the following ranking criteria was applied:
Highest coefficient from the matches played in the most recent qualifying competition.
Biggest average goal difference per game, found by dividing the sum of all goal differences by the number of ranked matches.
Highest average number of goals scored per game.
Highest average number of away goals scored per game.
Drawing of lots.
The last three times UEFA used this calculation method was for the final UEFA coefficients in 2003, 2005 and 2007.
On 20 May 2008, UEFA announced changes to the coefficient ranking system. The ranking will continue to be calculated every second year in November, but under the new system, teams now gain ranking points for each game played in the most recently completed full cycle (defined as all qualifying games and final tournament games) of both the World Cup and European Championship, with addition of ranking points for each game played at the latest completed half cycle (defined as all games played in the latest qualifying round). Ranking points for all games played inside those two and a half cycles, will be awarded according to the rules listed below.
10,000 points are awarded for each match played, regardless of the match result.
Each team earns an additional 30,000 for winning and 10,000 for drawing.
In case of a game decided by penalty shoot-out, the points are allocated as a draw, with the winner of the shoot-out gaining an additional 10,000 points.
Each match at the final tournament, or play-offs to determine qualification, are also granted bonus points, ranging from 6,000 points for all play-offs or World Cup group stage games, to 38,000 points for playing a final.
501 points are earned for each goal scored, and -500 are given for each goal conceded.
Coefficients are calculated for each two and a half cycle, by dividing the sum of earned points with the number of games played.
When calculating the overall average coefficient for the cycles, the latest full cycle and half cycle will each have double the weight, compared to the oldest full cycle.
Special arrangements are in place for those nations that did not participate in one of the previous qualifying tournaments due to hosting the competition.
After the recalculation of the coefficient rankings for the 2007 cycle, Italy were ranked top following their FIFA World Cup victory in 2006. Runners-up France lay behind them in second place, followed by the Czech Republic. Spain overtook Italy to gain first place following their UEFA Euro 2008 win, with beaten finalists Germany moving into second; the Netherlands were third.
Spain consolidated their top spot by winning the 2010 FIFA World Cup, with the Netherlands jumping above Germany by finishing second in the tournament. In the 2013 rankings, Spain maintained top spot by winning their third major competition in a row - UEFA Euro 2012. Germany regained second, with the Dutch falling back to third place after failing to make it out of their group.
Germany climbed to the top of the 2015 rankings as a result of their 2014 FIFA World Cup success; Spain dropped behind them. England reached their highest position in the rankings - placed third. Germany held on to top spot in 2017, with new European champions Portugal in second; Belgium were third.
UEFA member country that has been represented in the group stage
UEFA member country that has not been represented in the group stage
Not a UEFA member
The country coefficient is used to rank the football associations of Europe, and thus determine the number of clubs from an association that will participate in the UEFA Champions League and the UEFA Europa League.
The UEFA ranking determines the number of teams competing in the season after the next, not in the first season after the publication of the ranking. Thus, the rankings at the end of the 2019–20 season determine the team allocation by association in the 2021–22 (not 2020–21) UEFA season. This is unrelated to the selection of teams which will fill each allocation through the individual association leagues and national cups (which is decided in the preceding year).
This coefficient is determined by the results of the clubs of the associations in the UEFA Champions League and the UEFA Europa League games over the past five seasons. Two points are awarded for each win by a club, and one for a draw (points are halved in the qualifying and playoff rounds). Results determined by extra time do count in determining the allocation of points, but results determined by penalty-shootouts do not affect the allocation of points, other than for bonus points given for qualification into the latter rounds of the Champions League or the Europa League. The number of points awarded each season is divided by the number of teams that participated for that association in that season. This number is then rounded down to three decimal places (e.g. 2⅔ would be rounded to 2.666).
To determine a country's coefficient for a particular season, the coefficients for the last five seasons are added. Bonus points are added to the number of points scored in a season. Bonus points are allocated for:
The ranking below takes into account of each association's performance in European competitions from 2015–16 to 2019–20, with the 2019–20 season currently taking place.
The final ranking at the end of the 2019–20 season will be used to determine the number of places for each association in the 2021–22 UEFA Champions League, the 2021–22 UEFA Europa League and the 2021–22 UEFA Europa Conference League.
As of 12 March 2020 the coefficients are as follows:
Member association (L: League, C: Cup, LC: League cup1)
UEFA uses this coefficient system to decide which teams gain automatic entry to the group stage and which teams must go through qualifying. The teams who occupy the top four league places in the countries ranked 1 to 4 in UEFA competition gain automatic entry into the group stages for the following season’s Champions League competition, the top two teams of the country ranked 5 and 6, and the champions in the countries ranked 7 to 10. The Champions League and Europa League winners also get the chance to participate in the following season’s competition, guaranteed an automatic entry into the group stage.
Further information on Liechtenstein's status and similar cases
According to the UEFA regulations a National League needs to consist of at least eight clubs to be considered valid, otherwise no participants of such a league will be allowed to enter European competitions.
There are only seven clubs that are active in Liechtenstein, all of which play in neighbouring Switzerland's league competitions.
Prior to the introduction of the Welsh Premier League in 1992 Wales also had a single participant in European competitions, the winner (or best placed Welsh team as several English teams also competed) of the Welsh Cup, in the now defunct UEFA Cup Winners' Cup.
The original European competition, the Inter-Cities Fairs Cup, was limited to certain clubs and/or by invitation, so no coefficient calculation was necessary.
Following the introduction of the UEFA Cup in 1971, the competition began to grow in complexity. UEFA began to publish rankings in 1979, to identify the number of participants for each country in the UEFA Cup.
Subsequently, for statistical purposes, various rankings were introduced to portray the history of competitions. According to the prorated (extended) calculation system, only four leagues have succeeded in being ranked as the top European league.
Following the Heysel Stadium disaster, all English teams were banned from UEFA competitions in 1985. The ban was only lifted after five seasons, with the knock-on effects continuing to impact on the First Division and then the Premier League for a total of nine years from 1986 to 1994. Having been top in 1985, England were un-ranked in 1990 and would not regain the top position until 2008.
The following data indicates the three top-ranked leagues in each five-year period. Data prior to 1975–1979 period has been calculated, but precedes the first published by the Confederation and has merely informative value.
The club coefficient is either the sum of the points earned by the club in the UEFA Champions League and the UEFA Europa League over the previous five seasons or 20% of the club's association coefficient over the same period, whichever is the higher. Prior to the 2018 club rankings, teams received the sum of their points earned over the last five seasons plus 20% of the club's association coefficient.
The clubs receive two points for a win, one point for a draw, and no points for a defeat in games of the main stages of the Champions League and the Europa League. Results determined after extra-time are included in this method, however results determined after penalty shoot-outs are not (the result is considered a draw). Bonus points for entering the Europa League group stage are not additional to win/draw points; they provide a minimum points allowance for participating clubs, whereas bonus points for entering the Champions League group stage (and those for qualifying to the knockout stage) are additional to win/draw points.
Qualifying round results are only taken into account if the team is eliminated in one of the rounds (see table below). Otherwise, the qualifying round results are taken into account only for the calculation of the association's coefficient and are halved. The clubs do not receive any points for elimination in the Champions League qualifying because those teams move to the Europa League and receive points from participation in that competition.
Preliminary Round elimination
First qualifying round elimination
Second qualifying round elimination
Third qualifying round elimination
Group stage participation
Win in group stage or subsequent round
Draw in group stage or subsequent round
Round of 16 participation
Quarter-finals, semi-finals, and finals participation
This ranking is used by UEFA to determine a club's seeding in club competition draws, including the preliminary and first rounds of the Champions League, and the preliminary, first and second rounds of the Europa League.
Before 1999 a number of strong teams in the UEFA Cup were seeded such that those teams did not meet in the first two rounds. To determine these teams, the sum of the ratio of the number of points achieved to the number of games played by each team, was calculated for the past five years.
The following data indicate the top-ranked clubs in each 5-year period. Data prior to 1975–1979 period has been calculated, but precedes the first published by the Confederation and has merely informative value.
^ abPatric Andersson; Peter Ayton; Carsten Schmidt (2009). Myths and Facts about Football: The Economics and Psychology of the World's Greatest Sport. Newcastle upon Tyne: Cambridge Scholars Publishing. p. 136. ISBN14-4381-525-X.