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"Cup Winners' Cup" redirects here. For other uses, see Cup Winners' Cup (disambiguation).
UEFA Cup Winners' Cup
Cup Winners Cup.png
Founded 1960
Abolished 1999
Region Europe (UEFA)
Number of teams 32 (first round)
Last champions Italy Lazio (1st title)
Most successful club(s) Spain Barcelona
(4 titles)
Website UEFA Cup Winners' Cup

The UEFA Cup Winners' Cup (abbreviated as CWC) was a football club competition contested annually by the most recent winners of all European domestic cup competitions. The cup is one of the many inter-European club competitions that have been organised by UEFA. The first competition was held in the 1960–61 season — but not recognised by the governing body of European football until two years later.[1] The final tournament was held in 1998–99, after which it was absorbed into the UEFA Cup.[1]

Prior to its abolition, the Cup Winners' Cup was regarded as the second most prestigious European club competition out of the three major tournaments, behind the European Cup/UEFA Champions League and ahead of the UEFA Cup, although for a significant part of the sports press, its sportive level was less than that of the UEFA Cup. However, no club successfully defended the Cup Winners' Cup throughout its history. In the 1985–86 season, English clubs were banned from European competition. 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.[2]

From 1972 onwards, the winner of the tournament would go on to play the winner of the European Cup (later the UEFA Champions League) in the UEFA 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 UEFA Europa League. The competition's official name was originally the European Cup Winners' Cup; it was renamed the UEFA Cup Winners' Cup before the 1994–95 season.


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 goal applied when aggregate scores was parity. 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.

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


Inauguration and prestige[edit]

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 inaugural Cup Winners' Cup was held in the 1960–61 season and was basically 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.

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 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.[3][4][5][6][7][8]

Notable finals[edit]

Notable sides to have won the Cup Winners' Cup and some notable finals include:

  • 1963: Tottenham Hotspur 5–1 Atlético Madrid – Tottenham became the first British side to win a European trophy, beating reigning champions Atlético Madrid by a scoreline which remains the joint largest margin of victory in a one-match European final.
  • 1971: Chelsea 2–1 Real Madrid – Chelsea won their first European trophy, defeating a Madrid team seeking their 7th in a replay (1–1 draw after extra time in the initial match). They also knocked out the holders, Manchester City in the semi-final.
  • 1972: Rangers 3–2 Dynamo Moscow – Rangers' victory was marred by a pitch invasion by their fans, which led to a one-year ban for the team from European football, marking the first time the holders were unable to defend the title.
  • 1973: Milan 1–0 Leeds United – The crowd at the final reacted to perceived bias towards Milan by referee Christos Michas by throwing missiles during the victors' lap of honour, but despite protests the result was not overturned.[9] Michas was later banned by UEFA from refereeing international club matches due to match fixing, although his role in this match was not investigated.[10]
  • 1981: Dinamo Tbilisi 2–1 Carl Zeiss Jena – It was the final match of the 1980–81 European Cup Winners' Cup and the 21st European Cup Winners' Cup Final. The final was held at Rheinstadion in Düsseldorf, West Germany. Only 4,750 people attended the match, though some sources claim there were 9,000 people. Tbilisi won the match 2–1 thanks to goals by Vladimir Gutsaev and Vitaly Daraselia.

  • 1983: Aberdeen 2–1 Real Madrid – On 11 May 1983, Aberdeen managed by Alex Ferguson beat Real Madrid 2–1 (after extra time) to win the Cup and become only the third Scottish team to win a European trophy. Aberdeen reached the semi-finals of the following season's European Cup Winners' Cup, before losing to Porto 2–0 on aggregate.
  • 1984: Juventus 2–1 Porto – Juventus would go on to become the second team after Milan (1968, 1969) to follow victory in the Cup Winners' Cup with a successful European Cup campaign.
  • 1988: Mechelen 1–0 Ajax – Mechelen became one of a handful of clubs to win a European trophy in their debut campaign.
  • 1991: Manchester United 2–1 Barcelona – United won the Cup Winners' Cup in the first season English clubs were reinstated after the Heysel ban ended. It also marked Alex Ferguson matching Cruyff's feat in 1989, having also led Aberdeen to victory in the 1983 tournament.
  • 1993: Parma 3-1 Royal Antwerp – Parma would go on to play a further two consecutive finals, losing the following Cup Winners' Cup final and then winning the 1995 UEFA Cup vs Juventus.

No club managed to retain the Cup Winners' Cup (the so-called "Cup Winners' Cup jinx"), although a number of teams followed up their victories with a losing appearance in the following season's final. This "curse" happened on 8 occasions and showed its impact immediately since Fiorentina, the first winners of this competition in 1961, lost the following years' final to Atlético Madrid, and they themselves lost the following final to Tottenham Hotspur in 1963. Milan were the third holders to share the same fate in 1974 vs Magdeburg. Anderlecht won it in both 1976 an 1978, and finished runners-up in between, and Ajax failed to defend their title in 1988, losing out to Mechelen. In addition, three finals over four years between 1993 and 1997 saw the holder reach the final only to lose (Parma 1993 and 1994, Arsenal 1994 and 1995, and Paris Saint-Germain 1996 and 1997). In another instance, the outcome was reversed after Sampdoria lost the final to Barcelona in 1989, they themselves won the competition the following year, defeating Anderlecht.


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.

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 UEFA Europa League). Since then, domestic cup winners who do not otherwise qualify for the Champions League are given a place in the UEFA Cup.

The Cup Winners' Cup trophy itself is a property of UEFA and it's not assigned to any teams.[12]

Records and statistics[edit]

By club[edit]

Team Winners Runners-up Years won Years runner-up
Spain Barcelona 4 2 1979, 1982, 1989, 1997 1969, 1991
Belgium Anderlecht 2 2 1976, 1978 1977, 1990
Italy Milan 2 1 1968, 1973 1974
England Chelsea 2 0 1971, 1998
Soviet Union Dynamo Kyiv 2 0 1975, 1986
Spain Atlético Madrid 1 2 1962 1963, 1986
Scotland Rangers 1 2 1972 1961, 1967
England Arsenal 1 2 1994 1980, 1995
Italy Fiorentina 1 1 1961 1962
England West Ham United 1 1 1965 1976
Germany Hamburg 1 1 1977 1968
Netherlands Ajax 1 1 1987 1988
Italy Sampdoria 1 1 1990 1989
Italy Parma 1 1 1993 1994
France Paris Saint-Germain 1 1 1996 1997
England Tottenham Hotspur 1 0 1963
Portugal Sporting CP 1 0 1964
Germany Borussia Dortmund 1 0 1966
Germany Bayern Munich 1 0 1967
Czech Republic Slovan Bratislava 1 0 1969
England Manchester City 1 0 1970
East Germany Magdeburg 1 0 1974
Spain Valencia 1 0 1980
Soviet Union Dinamo Tbilisi 1 0 1981
Scotland Aberdeen 1 0 1983
Italy Juventus 1 0 1984
England Everton 1 0 1985
Belgium Mechelen 1 0 1988
England Manchester United 1 0 1991
Germany Werder Bremen 1 0 1992
Spain Real Zaragoza 1 0 1995
Italy Lazio 1 0 1999

See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b uefadirect, Issue 100: August 2010, Page 15 "European Cup Winners' Cup makes its debut".
  2. ^ http://news.bbc.co.uk/onthisday/hi/dates/stories/may/31/newsid_2481000/2481723.stm
  3. ^ Weaver, Graham (2012-06-22). Gunners' Glory: 14 Milestones in Arsenal's History. Mainstream Publishing. p. 159. ISBN 9781780575186. Retrieved 2 October 2015. The Cup-Winners' Cup is traditionally the weakest of the three European competitions 
  4. ^ Hesse-Lichtenberger, Ulrich (2003). Tor!: The Story of German Football. WSC Books Limited. p. 222. ISBN 9780954013455. Retrieved 2 October 2015. 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 
  5. ^ Spurling, Jon (2014-09-18). Red Letter Days: Fourteen Dramatic Events That Shook Arsenal Football Club. Pitch Publishing. p. 189. ISBN 9781909626935. Retrieved 2 October 2015. The European Cup Winners' Cup had always been regarded as the weakest of the three continental competitions 
  6. ^ 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 
  7. ^ 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 
  8. ^ Donald, Stuart (2011-07-04). On Fire with Fergie. Headline. Chapter 12, footnote 2. ISBN 978-0755319817. Retrieved 2 October 2015. 
  9. ^ Uefa asked to probe Leeds United's 1973 Cup Winners' Cup defeat to AC Milan Daily Telegraph, 15 April 2009, retrieved on 28 May 2009
  10. ^ UEFA asked to probe United's final defeat Yorkshire Evening Post, 3 April 2009, retrieved on 28 May 2009
  11. ^ uefa.com – UEFA Cup Winners' Cup. En.archive.uefa.com. Retrieved on 2011-04-10.
  12. ^ UEFA Zone - National Football Museum, Manchester

External links[edit]

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